Ocasio-Cortez plans brief return to bartending in support of tipped workers

One of Democrat New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s claims to fame is the manner in which she rose from serving drinks in a Bronx restaurant to become the youngest female member of Congress.

But later this week, Ocasio-Cortez will be back behind the bar once again, taking orders and pouring drinks at an establishment in her district.

Back to her roots

The freshman congresswoman is set to resume her position as a bartender/waitress as part of a public relations stunt to raise support for two pieces of legislation she wants to see passed into law.

The precise location at which she will appear on Friday has yet to be revealed publicly, most likely for security purposes.

The event was organized by a group known as Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), which is pushing the two pieces of legislation that would raise the minimum wage, particularly for those who work for tips.

Partnering with advocacy group

Under current federal and state laws, tipped workers can be paid an hourly wage below the established minimum if the tips they receive in addition to that lower wage ultimately result in a total amount equal to or greater than the standard minimum wage.

The first piece of legislation being supported by Ocasio-Cortez and ROC is the federal Raise the Wage Act, which would double the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour by the year 2024. For tipped workers, the federal sub-minimum wage is $2.13/hour.

The second piece of legislation is a New York state bill known as One Fair Wage, which would raise the city’s tipped wage of $10/hour to the same level as the city’s regular minimum wage of $15/hour.

“We’re very grateful for our partnership with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who fully understands the struggles of these workers,” ROC president and co-founder Saru Jayaraman said in an interview with the New York Daily News.

“As a former tipped worker, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez can shed light on the importance of One Fair Wage to lift up these workers and their families,” Jayaraman added.

Risk of unintended consequences

It is worth noting that the state of New York already raised both the minimum and tipped wages in 2018, and opponents of the legislation have warned that yet another wage hike so soon could prove disastrous to small businesses and result in devastating job losses for the very same workers Ocasio-Cortez and ROC claim they wish to help.

Whether either of the two pieces of legislation succeed remains unclear, but one things is certain — all jokes aside, Ocasio-Cortez really will be back to tending bar again, if only for a day.

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