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Hospitality workers strike in DC, demanding 'livable wage'

A protest organized by the group One Fair Wage was held outside Old Ebbitt Grill with signs saying they are closed due to "poverty wages."
Credit: WUSA9

WASHINGTON — Some of the workers keeping D.C. running are protesting and going on strike Wednesday, demanding what they call a full and livable wage.

A protest organized by the group One Fair Wage was held outside Old Ebbitt Grill with signs saying they are closed due to "poverty wages." They say they need a fair wage for them to get back to work.

The strike comes as some restaurants are struggling to fill vacant positions as more businesses reopen and restrictions lift.

"Today we are fighting for $15 plus tips on top on a federal level,” said Aniyah Vines, the organizer for One Fair Wage. “The sub-minimum wage on a federal level is $2.13, so the restaurant industry is the fastest and largest industry with gross income but the lowest paying for its workers.”

A recent study by the organization One Fair Wage found more than half of restaurant workers are considering leaving their restaurant jobs. The overwhelming majority in the study cited low pay and tips.

The nationwide group pushed to get legislation passed in the COVID relief package to raise the minimum wage, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

A spokesperson for Old Ebbitt Grill said they support peaceful protesters. 

"We support peaceful protestors, and being located in the heart of the nation’s capital, we’re often the backdrop for them," Molly Quigley, a spokesperson for Old Ebbitt Grill said. "Today’s protest was small in numbers, did not include anyone we know, and from what we understand, are not locals. We continue to stand with our employees, who overwhelmingly opposed Initiative 77."

Credit: WUSA9

One protester, who only gave her first name Michelle, said the way things are working now isn’t sustainable. “And if I get tips, they include that into the salary and it’s not enough to live off of,” she said.

“We’re fighting on behalf of those who can’t be out here because they are working, we’re fighting on behalf of those who are being discriminated upon at workplaces but think they need to keep up with it and put up with it because that’s their only way on income,” said Michelle.

The protesting worker also says if they’re going to be helping these restaurant workers and restaurant managers make a living, they need to be paid a living wage.

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