How can we be sure that restaurant workers are being paid a fair wage? What about whether they have access to benefits? Are they entitled to paid sick days? The Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United works directly to improve wages and working conditions for the 10 million restaurant workers in the US and now they’ve made it easier for diners to support the restaurants who are taking the “high road” and encourage those who aren’t to make a change.

The challenges faced by restaurant workers are staggering. In some states, the hourly rate for tipped workers is as low as $2.13 an hour, which leaves many relying on fluctuating tips creating economic instability. According to research from ROC, 90% of restaurant workers report not having pad sick days, which is not only hugely detrimental to the workers themselves but also causes concern for public health. Another issue that ROC has brought into public awareness is of internal mobility, which disproportionately affects workers of colour, who often occupy lower level positions within the industry. So what can we do to make a change?

The ROC National Diners’ Guide, which is free to download and available for both iPhone and Android users, ranks restaurants as “high road” if they meet their standards on wages, benefits, and promotion practices. The app also provides employment information on the most popular restaurants in America in major cities across the country, from Los Angeles to Washington DC to New York City.

But it’s not about boycotting certain restaurants. ROC United wants to encourage us all to make our voices heard and tell those restaurants who either aren’t featured, or could be doing better, how important fair wages, access to paid sick days and internal advancement opportunities are to you.

If you would like to learn more about the issues facing restaurant workers and the work of ROC United, watch the discussion below from our recent True Cost of American Food conference, featuring ROC United Co-Founder Saru Jayaraman.

Photograph: USDA

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