Reopen NY: Restaurant owners, workers present 'Safe and Just Reopening' plan to Cuomo

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- A group of 50 local independent restaurant owners and 200 workers proposed their own "Safe and Just Reopening" plan to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State legislature.

The plan centers around four pillars that both employers and employees agree are needed to create a more equitable restaurant industry coming out of COVID-19.

The tenets of the plan include:

- Elimination of the subminimum tipped wage for all New Yorkers, which, the group says, contributes to racial pay inequality
- Allowance of tip sharing with back-of-house and kitchen staff, which is currently illegal in New York
- Payroll tax relief for struggling restaurants
- Establishment of a 5% safe reopening surcharge that restaurants can charge

Chef and owner of Reverence restaurant in Harlem, Russell Jackson represents the more than 50 restaurateurs who have signed onto the agreement, and are placing signs in their windows stating 'Service Industry Workers & Employers United for a Safe & Just Reopening.'

After their presentation, the owners and workers held an event at Reverence restaurant in Harlem where they served a special three-course pre-fixe meal prepared by Jackson.

Jackson pays his staff more than the minimum wage and says all of the the tips his staff earns are shared and says his restaurant proves tip sharing and higher wages can work.

The group even has the backing of some of the most powerful names in the industry, including restaurateur Danny Meyer.

"It's only worth getting on our feet if we do it the right way," Meyer said. "It's not tipping itself, it's the underlying rules, one fair wage fixes that."

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