In reaction the Governor Cuomo’s resignation announcement, Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage, a national nonprofit that advocates on behalf of workers earning the tipped subminimum wage, specifically restaurant workers, issued the following in response:

“Governor Cuomo’s announcement that he is resigning effective 14 days is long overdue. As One Fair Wage stands in solidarity with the many survivors of sexual harassment who suffered abuse at the hands of the outgoing Governor, we know also at stake are the 400,000 women across New York working at the front lines of the restaurant industry—the industry with the absolute highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry due to a subminimum wage that forces these women to live off of tips. 

“We applaud newly-appointed Governor Hochul for having publicly called for One Fair Wage—ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers. As the first woman Governor of New York, and coming into office on the heels of a sexual harassment crisis no less, she must prioritize ending the subminimum wage for tipped restaurant workers and align with President Biden, thousands of independent resaturant owners, and hundreds of thousands of restaurant workers calling for One Fair Wage as the single most effective means to cut sexual harassment in the restaurant industry: the industry with the highest levels of sexual harassment of all. 

“Governor Cuomo has conspicuously left these 400,000 women out of minimum wage increases due to pressure from the restaurant lobby. After saying that he would end the subminimum wage for tipped workers as a way to address sexual harassment in the restaurant industry in December 2017, at the height of the #MeToo movement, Governor Cuomo proceeded to end the subminimum wage for all other tipped workers, except for restaurant workers, who are nearly two-thirds women in New York State and who suffered a dramatic increase in life-threatening sexual harassment during the pandemic. 

“But restaurant workers—especially women and women of color—cannot afford to be put on the back burner for another second in this crisis moment for restaurants in New York. More than 50% of New York restaurant workers are considering quitting the industry, and they won’t go back to restaurants until they can earn full, fair, livable wages with tips on top. 

“What New Yorkers need now is restaurant jobs with dignity. We implore Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul to institute One Fair Wage—a full minimum wage for all workers with tips on top—as one of her first acts as Governor.”

Last week, One Fair Wage released a how-to-guide on how restaurants, even amid the pandemic, can profitably transition to paying this wage to their workers.

In June, One Fair Wage released its latest New York statewide report, “It’s A Wage Shortage, Not A Worker Shortage: Why New York Restaurant Workers Are Leaving the Industry, and What Would Make Them Stay,” which identified how the core problem with restaurants recruiting workers isn’t the lack of workers available, but rather, the lack of workers who will go back to jobs that pay so little.

The report found that: