By Lonnie Glander
I’ve worked as a full time server in Portland, Maine, since 2002. Before that I was waiting tables during the summer while attending school. I really like my job and I take it very seriously. I worked as a server at one local restaurant for eight and half years, and while the tips were good, I never got a raise.
After working on my feet for so many years I had hernia surgery (from lifting and carrying heavy trays up and down stairs) and blew out my knees. Every time I get sick or injured, I am out a paycheck. We have no paid sick days, so even if I’m injured, I feel compelled to go to work or worry about how I’m going to make rent.
I’ve been at my current job for three years and got a promotion to supervisor about a year ago. Sometimes I am at work up to 18 hours, and have to be back at the restaurant after a 6 hour break. You work like crazy during the busy season, but then during the slow season you can go weeks without a paycheck at all.
Serving has been my career. But it has wreaked havoc on my back and knees, and I feel I have nothing to show for it. I have no retirement, no security. I have enjoyed my jobs, and I often made enough to get by, but now am wondering if it was all worth it.
The minimum base pay must increase. It would give tipped workers stability, it would allow us the opportunity to save and prepare for slow seasons, which can come at unexpected times.
Reprinted with permission from Mainers For Fair Wages.