Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Working for Free

Okay, so two things have happened. The good news is that I found out I might be hired as a researcher for this project I am really excited about. It's for a non-profit organization interested in alleviating financial illiteracy among at-risk groups, for example college students. I can't wait to get started, and when I was working on my proposal for them I sincerely had fun doing it!

In the meantime, as you know, I got a gig at a restaurant. Which is where the work for free part comes in. So yesterday night was slow. It was a Monday, after all. But still. Towards the end of the evening the GM pulls me aside and tells me, because I asked earlier if they needed my Social Security number, that I should know they only pay cash. I just shrugged. In reality, the vast majority of restaurants in the city are cash only employers. Frankly, I would prefer to be on the books for a myriad of reasons, from the moral to the practical, but I'm not exactly a voting shareholder here. So then the GM tells me this I-am-one-of-you speech, concluding that after much badgering and goodwill he convinced the owner to guarantee a minimum of sixty dollars. What?!

Well, he doesn't pay an hourly wage. Okay, servers get a dollar below minimum, yes this part is legal, and yes this is why it's important to tip. That said, you make good money in the city waiting tables. If you give good service, which isn't a walk in the park but not exactly brain surgery, then you get an average 18-20% tip. Most restaurants still give you the dollar below minimum hourly wage, even if it is off the books. It is not normal to get nothing. And sixty bucks a night sucks a$#. Which, after I tipped out the entire staff (another irritating thing restaurants like to do- make the wait staff pay for the restaurant staff because the owners don't want to) I walked with sixty.

Suffice it to say I will not be staying at that restaurant. Which is sad, because I can't beat the commute- it's only a block away! It's only a couple shifts a week and a very easy and laid back place. Until I hear back from the other position as a researcher and learn what the pay will be, this will give me some pocket change.


Ms. M&P said...

Wow. That's horrible. It really sucks that they have the minimum AND require you to pay out to other workers. Total bs. Restaurants get breaks in the law like no other industry. I hope you kick these guys to the curb soon.

CONGRATS on the research job!! That's perfect! It sounds like a great cause, and they're lucky to have you.

PiggyBankBlues said...

thanks :)