"Take off your mask so I know how much to tip you" is a new report from One Fair Wage, a national organization that works to improve wages and working conditions for service industry employees. The data is based on surveys 1,675 food service workers from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C., and was conducted between October 20 and November 10 — when coronavirus numbers were definitely on the upswing.
Here are just the key findings:
• Nearly one-half (44%) of workers who responded reported that at least one or more of their co-workers in their restaurant had contracted COVID-19.
• Nearly 9 in 10 workers (88%) reported knowing someone who contracted COVID-19, and of those workers, 42% reported knowing someone who died from the virus.
• Over one-third of responding workers (37%) reported that their employer had not conducted a mandatory training on COVID safety protocols.
• Most workers (84%) report being within six feet of at least one person who is not wearing a mask in every shift, and more than one third (33%) report being within six feet of 30 or more maskless individuals on every shift.
• Nearly 70% of workers (69%) reported that their employer is not consistently following all COVID safety protocols
This isn't just an indictment on the restaurants themselves, nor does it necessarily mean that the management at these restaurants is being malicious or abusive or neglectful. If people are stressed and anxious and struggling to make enough money to keep the lights on, it's not surprising that their behavior might get sloppy.
But the behavior from the clientele certainly doesn't help either:
• Over 80% of workers (83%) report that their tips have declined during COVID-19. This decline is severe: nearly two thirds (66%) report that their tips have declined by at least 50%.
• Over three-quarters of workers (78%) report experiencing or witnessing hostile behavior from customers in response to staff enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols, and nearly 60% (59%) report experiencing such hostility at least weekly.
• Over one-half of workers (58%) report feeling reluctant to enforce COVID-19 protocols out of concern that customers would tip them less. Indeed, two thirds of workers (67%) report having received a lesser than usual tip after enforcing COVID-19 protocols on customers, usually on a frequent basis.
• More than 40% of workers (41%) reported that there has been a noticeable change in the frequency of unwanted sexualized comments from customers, and just over one quarter (25%) report that they have experienced or witnessed a significant change in the frequency of such sexual harassment
So let's review: 1 in 10 restaurant workers — some of whom are only making $2.63 an hour! — have contracted COVID-19. 90% know someone who has contracted COVID-19. The restaurants aren't being meticulous about hygiene protocols because the customers are mostly assholes who are reluctant to open their wallets even as they put other people at risk.
Stop going out to restaurants. I couldn't even go into the doctor's office with my six-month old yesterday because of assholes like these, yet you can still go out with 10 fucking people to a restaurant. Pressure your local governments to support the god damn restaurant industry to keep your favorite restaurants afloat so that they don't have stay open, which encourages situations exactly like the ones that have been reported.
Take off your mask so I know how much to tip you [One Fair Wage]
Tipped Service Workers Are More Vulnerable Amid Pandemic Harassment Spike: Study [Debbie Elliott and Emma Bowman / NPR]
The worst people imaginable are dining out, study finds [Jerilyn Jordan / Detroit Metro Times]
Image: Daniel J. Calderón (Public Domain)