A dozen high-powered Hollywood actors have jumped up to help New York’s restaurant workers get a pay raise, but instead of gratitude the workers sent an open letter telling the A-listers to stay out of their business.
The large group of A-listers, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman and more, signed onto a letter sent to New York’s Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo demanding that he sign a bill to raise the minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers, the New York Post reported.
The current law forces businesses to pay tipped workers $8.65 per hour. But the Hollywood celebrities want that wage to be raised to the same level as the normal minimum wage, which is set to reach $15 by the year 2020.
However, a campaign started by Maggie Raczynski, an Outback Steakhouse bartender in Clifton Park, New York, is telling the Hollywooders that their intercession is not wanted.
“You’ve been misled,” Raczynski said in her letter endorsed by 500 other New York restaurant workers.
“To the celebrity women who recently criticized the full-service restaurant industry, from thousands of women who work in it, thank you for your concern. But we don’t need your help, and we’re not asking to be saved. You’ve been misled that we earn less than minimum wage, and that we are somehow helpless victims of sexual harassment,” the workers say in their open letter, according to the Post Star.
“Bad behavior happens in every industry—Hollywood celebrities should know better than most that sexual harassment happens everywhere,” Raczynski’s letter continues. “The people who are pushing for this change in the restaurant industry are exploiting the isolated stories of people that have suffered injustices, and making it out to be the industry’s or the tipping system’s fault. That is just not true.”
“We respect your profession, and now it’s time for you to respect ours,” the missive concludes.
Raczynski says that she and her fellow workers think that if the celebrities are successful in pushing a higher wage, the higher costs will hurt their jobs. “The cost of food is going to go up, and the number of servers is going to go down,” she said.
The Outback employee and activist also said that if menu prices rise, customers will leave less in tips and that also hurts employees who earn tips.
“How am I supposed to survive on $10.40 an hour?” Raczynski said, according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. “If the end goal of this is to collect more tax money from people—how much are you going to collect from unemployed people who lose their businesses?”
JoeyLynn Ramsier, a waitress in Watertown, New York, agreed that the forced wage hike would hurt the restaurant industry in general and those whom the celebrities claim they want to help in particular.
“I work for myself, but I [waitress] on the side to make extra money because I’m a single mom with two kids,” Ramsier, said. She added that if the wage goes up, her income will likely go down and then it would be a waste of time to even work. “I won’t do it. It’s not worth the money,” she said.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.