Waffle House Workers Demand $25 Hourly Wage, 24/7 Security

  • Waffle House workers want their wage to go up to $25 an hour.
  • They’re also demanding 24/7 security and an end to mandatory meal deductions regardless of whether staff eat during their shift.
  • Workers rallied outside the company’s headquarters in Georgia on Wednesday to demand the changes.

Waffle House workers are demanding a $25 minimum hourly wage and constant security in restaurants.

Workers rallied outside the company’s headquarters in Norcross, Georgia on Wednesday to demand the changes. The Union of Southern Service Workers, which is supported by the Service Employees International Union, is organizing Waffle House workers.

The USSW said that Waffle House’s response to Wednesday’s rally showed that the company “doesn’t care about its workers.”

The southern chain is well-known for keeping its nearly 2,000 locations open 24/7, even during natural disasters so severe that restaurants don’t have access to electricity and running water.

But its restaurants have developed a reputation as a hotbed for violence, including from intoxicated customers, in part because they’re open throughout the night.

USSW member Jessica Gantt in South Carolina said at a previous strike that during her 24 years at Waffle House she’d experienced two robberies and “had guns in my face.”

“We’re sick and tired of making poverty wages, the constant threat of in-store violence, and mandatory meal deductions — whether we eat a meal or not while on a shift,” the Union of Southern Service Workers says on its website.

Workers are demanding that Waffle House provides 24-hour security, lets staff get involved in creating a safety plan for their store that includes natural disasters, replaces mandatory meal deductions with the option for staff to purchase discounted shift meals, and raises wages to $25 an hour for all servers, cooks, and workers.

As well as concerns about workplace safety, wages are a major point of contention for Waffle House workers.

Gerald Green, a cook at a Waffle House in Atlanta and a USSW organizer, told Axios that some workers had to work extra jobs to top up their wages. “That’s really the crux behind why we’re asking for $25 an hour,” he told the publication.

Green told The Guardian that earlier this year he injured his foot and should have taken time off work but didn’t because he needed the money for bills.

“I can’t get the things I need for my family off a Waffle House check,” Kasiyah Giles, a Waffle House worker and USSW member, said in a statement published by the union.

One Waffle House worker in North Carolina said in a video posted by the USSW that she makes $10 an hour. “I’m supposed to get tips, but nobody really tips like that at the Waffle House,” she said.

Gantt, the employee who’s been at Waffle House for 24 years, said she earns $16 an hour. “I definitely think they could do better than $16 an hour,” she said.

Waffle House doesn’t appear to include wages on its job listings, but says that it offers staff “great pay.”

Insider has approached Waffle House for comment on the USSW’s demands and for information on average pay for hourly workers and the measures it takes to protect staff from violence.

Do you work in fast food? Got a story? Email this worker at [email protected].

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