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Jayapal, Velázquez Lead Members of Congress in Calling on President Biden to Raise Wages, Improve Working Conditions for Restaurant Workers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07) led members of Congress in a letter calling on President Biden to adopt High Road Kitchens, a public-private partnership program that has been shown to increase wages for restaurant workers while maintaining restaurant profitability. The program, which was developed in partnership with One Fair Wage, provides struggling restaurants funding, training, and recognition if they commit to raising wages for their workers and improving working conditions. 

“During a crucial moment in which millions of workers are no longer willing to work for poverty and subminimum wages, thousands of small and medium-sized businesses are raising wages to recruit staff, and the policy landscape to heed your call to raise the minimum wage and end the subminimum wage for tipped workers is more favorable than it has ever been…We urge you to use this moment of near full-employment to support programs and policies that result in wage increases for workers,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe the High Road Kitchens program can spur higher wages for restaurant workers and serve as a catalyst for similar changes in other low-wage sectors. 

The lawmakers outlined a series of recommended actions for the Biden administration to take to encourage the adoption of High Road Kitchens, including:

  • Educating states and localities about the program and its benefits; 
  • Encouraging and supporting states and localities to use WIOA, ARP, or other dollars to support participating restaurants;
  • Meeting and working with philanthropic leaders, many of whom supported the program in various states and who are now eager to partner with the Biden Administration on this program, about the possibility of matching states and localities’ public dollars with philanthropic contributions; and
  • Recognizing restaurants that participate in the program and raise wages and equity for their employees in response to the staffing crisis, thus incentivizing other restaurants to follow suit. 

The letter was signed by U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Danny K. Davis (IL-07),  Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Andy Levin (MI-09), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Marie Newman (IL-03), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07),  Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13). 

A copy of the letter is available here.