Labor Center Staff
Director, Food Labor Research Center
Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC in New York, which has organized restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants. ROC now has 10,000 members in 19 cities nationwide. The story of Saru and her co-founder's work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times "Public Lives" section in 2005, and was named one of Crain's "40 Under 40" in 2008, 1010 WINS's "Newsmaker of the Year," and one of New York Magazine's "Influentials" of New York City. Saru co-edited The New Urban Immigrant Workforce, (ME Sharpe, 2005) and authored Behind the Kitchen Door, forthcoming from Cornell University Press.
October 2012 by Chris Benner, Associate Professor, Center for Regional Change,
University of California, Davis
Saru Jayaraman, Director, Food Labor
Research Center, University of California, Berkeley
» Press Release
» Press Coverage
Opponents of raising the federal minimum wage often argue that, while the increase in wages may benefit low-wage workers, it will also increase the cost of food and other basic goods, thus hurting the very people the minimum wage increase is intended to help. In this report, we provide a detailed analysis of the potential increase in food prices of new legislation proposed by Congressmember George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) that would increase the minimum wage to $9.80 over a three-year period, as well as increase the tipped minimum wage, which currently stands at $2.13, until it reaches 70% of the full federal minimum. We find that while the Miller/Harkin bill would provide a 33% wage increase for regular minimum wage workers and would more than double the wages of tipped workers over the same period, retail grocery store food prices would only increase by an average of less than half a percent over the three-year phase-in of the new minimum wage, and restaurant food prices would increase by less than one percent per year. This increased cost of food, both away and at home, would amount to about 10 cents more per day on average for American households over the three-year period.
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