AOC equates some tipped workers' jobs to 'indentured servitude'

By U.S. EconomyFOXBusiness

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New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took up her former job as a bartender on Friday, advocating for a higher minimum wage for tipped workers.

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The goal of the event hosted by Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United was to promote the One Fair Wage Act, which aims to prevent tipped workers – like those in the restaurant industry – from being paid less than the federal minimum wage. According to the group’s website, tipped workers can be paid wages as low as $2.13 per hour – a rate it says hasn’t been changed since 1991.

The congresswoman spoke to a crowd during Friday's event, saying "any job that pays $2.13 an hour is not a job. It's indentured servitude."

She also got behind the bar and took some customers' orders.

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New York is one of 43 states where two minimum wages are allowed to be set. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, though many states have higher rates. Connecticut, for example, passed a bill this week that will lift its hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2023.

The freshman lawmaker has been vocal about her past working as a bartender in New York City. She unseated 10-term congressman Rep. Joe Crowley last year in the Democratic primary. The restaurant where she worked is called Flats Fix, a taco and tequila bar. Ocasio-Cortez famously said that she couldn’t afford an apartment in Washington, D.C., after she was elected.

Meanwhile, raising the federal minimum wage for all workers has become a big issue – particularly among Democrats – in the run-up to the 2020 election. In January, members of the party introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2019, which would increase the national minimum pay rate to $15 by 2024 through scheduled annual increases. It has more than 180 co-sponsors, including support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who supports the bill, said a $15 minimum wage would increase pay for “more than 25 percent of the U.S. workforce.”

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Sanders, who launched a 2020 presidential bid, has called the current federal minimum wage – at $7.25 – a “starvation wage.” The senator has successfully campaigned to get big corporations – like Amazon – to raise employee pay to $15.

Twenty states raised their minimum wages at the outset of 2019, including California, New York and Washington.