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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

Waffle House workers fight – and win


Welcome to Winning Wednesday!


Waffle House workers have been making a lot of noise through the Union of Southern Service Workers, affiliated with SEIU.   Servers from a Conyers, GA, store have gone on strike and delivered petitions to management demanding a living wage and 24-hour security on-site.   Now they are getting a raise from their employer.


Most Waffle House locations are spread across the South, where restaurant workers typically earn a low “tipped minimum wage” supplemented by tips (or not). Waffle House workers in Georgia, for instance, can earn less than $3 per hour, with tips expected to push them above the national minimum wage of $7.25.   Some people have worked there for years, even decades, without a raise in base pay.


According to the Huff Post, Waffle House plans to increase pay for servers at its restaurants across the country over the next three years, with some workers likely to see raises of a few dollars an hour.  Their CEO, Joe Rogers III, explained to employees in a video that the pay boosts would “affect every single salesperson at Waffle House,” and would be funded by menu price increases targeted at stores in areas with high costs of living. The raises apply only to servers and will start going into effect this month.


Rogers said in his video that most workers would fall into one of three categories depending on where they work: those whose base pay would reach $5.25 per hour in two years; $6.25 in two and a half years; or $7.25 in three years. Workers in Florida and Colorado would see their wages climb higher than that due to state minimum wage laws.


The plan includes pay differentials to reward workers with long tenures. Servers would receive a 50-cents-per-hour bonus after three years, and this increases by 10 cents every year thereafter, with a maximum bonus of $3.20 per hour after 30 years. Workers could also get shift premiums of up to $1 per hour for working evenings or overnight.


Obviously this still leaves the workers with poverty wages.  They are also still left with an issue that particularly rankles them – they have meals deducted from their pay, whether they eat them or not.  Security is also a big issue for late night and overnight workers.


That being said, everyone can see that the company had to respond to the union’s pressure.  Making pressure campaigns that work is how you build power.  As the union grows, they’ll have more power to get more for their people.  Congratulations to Waffle House workers, and I look forward to see what you win next.  And to the rest of you: always tip, like I do, and TIP IN CASH!



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