Two dollars and thirteen cents an hour: that’s the state’s minimum wage for tipped workers.
Employers in most rich nations around the world would be committing a crime if they tried to pay their workers $2.13 an hour — or even Georgia’s state minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.
Some Georgia businesses are exempt from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, so some of the folks picking your food out on Georgia’s many farms and the home healthcare aid that helps your elderly grandfather can legally be paid only $5.15 an hour — a number which hasn’t changed in more than 15 years. And unlike your server or bartender, these worker don’t receive any tips.
We can demand better wages for all Georgians, and when we do, the entire economy benefits.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would impact 1.7 million working people in this state, nearly one in four people in the workforce. More Georgians would suddenly have more income that would be invested in the local economy vs. the billions in profits being hoarded by the few at the top.
That’s 1.7 million people who would never have to choose between rent and groceries. That’s 1.7 million people whose kids are not living with food insecurity. That’s 1.7 million people who can afford childcare.
But labor rights groups are advocating for more than just a living wage. Women of color represent that largest group of low-wage earners, and many are subject to sexual harassment at work, have no family leave or paid time off and work “on-call” schedules that allow their bosses to decide last minute if an employee will be called in or not.
As if that’s not enough, Georgia is also a so-called “right to work” state. This means you can get fired at any time with no notice or reason.
The right to work with dignity? Or safety? Or being able to afford to pay your rent, utilities and feed your children by working a full-time schedule?
Our lawmakers don’t seem to care as long as big corporations are padding their pockets to keep wages artificially low.
Unfortunately, our lawmakers’ inaction on a sensible minimum wage means that many workers find their pockets completely empty, month after month.