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Survey: Miami restaurant staff underpaid, lack benefits

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Almost two out of five restaurant workers in the Miami area make so little that they fall below the poverty line, according to a new survey by the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Miami and Florida International University.

The survey of 580 Miami-Dade restaurant employees found that 89.6% have no health benefits and 65.2% have gone to work when they are sick.

On the wage and hour front, 45.5% claim to have been the victim of overtime violations, and 27.1% claim they have been forced to work off-the-clock.

The survey highlighted work and wage disparities based on race. It found that whites are more likely to work the coveted positions of servers, bartenders and cooks, earning a median wage of $11.29 per hour. The median was $10 for Latinos, $9 for non-Haitian blacks and $8.21 for Haitians.

The Restaurant Opportunities Centers, operating in Miami and six other cities nationwide, were founded in New York by surviving employees of the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant, which was destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001. The centers advocate for better working conditions and wages in the restaurant industry.

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