An open letter to State Governors & Legislatures

We Demand Basic Protections for Service Industry Workers while Reopening Texas

14 so far! Let’s get to 25 signers!

With over one million Texans so far who have lost their health insurance due to losing their jobs, and insurance costs being unrealistic to anyone without an income, it is imperative that you take precautions to protect workers in Texas. As you are aware, many of our workers are uninsured even while employed full-time, many with more than one job. In fact, by our research less than 60% of hospitality workers had health insurance while they were employed. If we are to return to work, we demand paid sick and family leave for workers be implemented statewide, even for employees who have not tested positive for COVID-19. A worker should not have to choose between working while sick or with a sick family member at home alone and going without food, housing, or utilities. Moreover, our customers should not have to fear that we are working when we should be recovering, or helping a family member recover. Forcing the service industry to work without a guarantee of relief for the sick will hurt our peers and our customers. Workers who rely on tips to survive have been harshly affected and will continue to be affected in the coming months — and more than likely over the next few years. While restaurants are struggling to survive on to-go and take out orders, many of our peers are being paid the standard ‘tipped-wage’ of $2.13/hr. Clearly, restaurant volume is nowhere near where it was before the crisis, causing sales and tips to be dramatically suppressed. Dallas County Community College District’s Labor Market Intelligence calculates a basic livable wage as $11.75 for a single adult with no children. To account for inflation and taxes overcoming hard years, and to include workers with children, we call for the state to supplement wages to a livable wage of at least $15 an hour. Tips are often seen as charity by our guests, and are appreciated, but clearly cannot be relied upon for continuity of livelihood — especially now. A full-minimum wage worker’s estimated take home pay is currently $1,096 a month. The average rent in Texas for a one bedroom apartment is $844, or much more if they live in a major city or suburban area. That leaves $252 for utilities and groceries. If service industry workers are truly essential, we must return to well paying jobs when the economy reopens. The state of Texas currently rates 49th out of 50 in COVID-19 testing country-wide. Widespread testing must become available before the large population of Texas is allowed to relax the social distancing standards that have been shown to reduce the rate of COVID-19 infections. Restaurant workers are exposed to a large number of people through their daily work, in spaces where it is impractical to maintain a distance of 6 feet between others. We look forward to your leadership and support in helping the Workers of Texas achieve guaranteed paid sick and family leave, a basic livable minimum wage of $15 an hour, and access to widespread COVID-19 testing.

First sent on April 20, 2020 by Shift Dallas

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