Restaurant workers, joined by faith leaders and and other supporters, marched in the drizzling rain from the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church to the State House to demand an increase in the tipped minimum wage, the first such increase in 20 years. The tipped minimum wage in Rhode Island is $2.89, as opposed to the regular minimum wage of $9. It is expected that the General Assembly will raise the regular minimum wage to $9.60 in this session, though even $9.60 is a far cry from a living wage, estimated to be about $12 per hour.
The effort to raise the tipped minimum wage has been led by Restaurant Opportunities Center RI. A bill introduced by Representative Aaron Regunberg in the House and Senator Gayle Goldin in the Senate seeks to raise the tipped minimum wage every year until it reaches parity with the regular minimum wage. That bill is not expected to pass this year, though Regunberg is hopeful that a $1.00 increase in the tipped minimum wage can be negotiated.