‘Waging Change’ Documents Worker Movement to End Tipped Minimum Wage


A still from “Waging Change.” Image courtesy of Abby Ginzberg.

San Francisco’s hourly minimum wage is $15.59 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25. But there’s another minimum: The federal government says tipped workers can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour if they are estimated to make the rest in tips. That minimum hasn’t changed since 1991.

In “Waging Change,” a new documentary from filmmaker Abby Ginzberg, workers explain the toll this wage structure takes on their pay, safety and families. On this episode of “Civic,” Ginzberg and Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley and co-founder of One Fair Wage, say the tipped minimum wage is directly linked with sexual harassment and racial discrimination in the workplace.

“Waging Change” will have its San Francisco Bay Area premiere at the Castro Theatre on Sunday, July 12, at 1 p.m. (postponed from an original date of March 22 due to coronavirus precautions).

“The idea of a minimum wage that was established in 1938 as part of the New Deal was the idea that everybody who works should not be paid less than this. And yet, even from that moment, there was exceptions for black people there and exceptions for women. And that’s where we’ve come as a country: We have these notions that somehow there are universal things that hold that nobody should be paid less, except for people that we value less.” — Saru Jayaraman

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A segment from our radio show, “Civic.” Listen daily at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 102.5 FM in San Francisco.