My name is Tracy Pease and I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for over 30 years. It’s intergenerational in my family too. My grandmother was a waitress for 50 years until she passed away. She helped open Elias Brothers Big boy. My mother worked in restaurants for over 20 years; from the time she was 16 until 40 she waited tables. My aunt is in her mid 50’s and she’s been waiting tables since she was 17. This is a family matter for me. 

I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for over 30 years. I started working at Big Boy when I was 17 years old, in January of 1989 and I’ve worked in bars, worked fine dining, family dining, ethnic restaurants. I’ve worked as a bartender, cocktail waitress, you name it. All in Southeast Michigan.  

I support One Fair Wage for so many reasons. First of all, we deserve a fair wage. And also equally important we deserve to be treated with respect. 

When I stated  waitressing in 1989 I was making $2.52 an hour. In 30 years I’ve received  a one dollar raise. One dollar in 30 years. If other industries followed this standard there would be wide spread rioting. But for some reason it’s ok for this to be the standard in the food service industry. 

People need to know that tips are not guaranteed. People who come into a restaurant to work are not obliged to tip me, but I am obligated to pay my rent. I am obligated to pay my electric bill, as well. The  only thing that guaranteed me is $3.53 an hour, and no one can live on that. 

If we have a bad day at work , if we’re under construction or slow because of the weather or if it’s after the holidays when people aren’t eating out, I’m still working during the holidays. No one is obligated to tip you. There is not obligation there. 

This is the only industry where an owner or employer can request that the customer pay the difference for the minimum wage. It’s not my job to support a mediocre business. And if you cannot afford to pay servers or employees a livable wage then you know what? You should not be in business. 

It’s not the waitresses responsibility to support a mediocre business. 

Look, let’s be honest. $12 an hour is not a living wage but at least it’s a start.  With $12  an hour, and working 40 hours a week, I know I’ll be bringing home a paycheck of $480 minus taxes plus whatever tips I get. That could be a car payment or DTE payment. At least I’ll be guaranteed that much money and I won’t have to worry too much when today was a rough day and no one came in. Living a life without the stress of wondering how I’m going to pay my bills? That means a lot. 

I was working at a Cony Island making $500 a week in tips when they did construction installed a parking lot and because Michigan is a cold weather state and this construction went on for a year, my tips when down from 500 a week to 250 a week. Now how do you live on that? And then you get a check once a week for maybe 40, 50 bucks? Give me a break.

Another thing people may not understand is that at $3.53 an hour you’re also suppose to do side work, but you’re not making tips when you’re cleaning. They’ll tell you if you’re not going to do the side work, we don’t need you, or they will put you in a bad section that doesn’t make any tips. 

We were expected to do deep cleaning of the booths. They would give you 3 booths to clean, and we would spend 20 minutes on each one,  scrubbing the seats, scraping gum off the underside of the table with a knife.  And I’m doing this for $3.53 an hour? 

My mother’s sister cleans houses for a living and she will not spend any time in a house for less than $50 for three hours. Everyone agrees that a reasonable wage for someone to clean your house, but you want me to scrape off gum from under a table for $3 an hour? For the opportunity to maybe make a some money?

Those are slave wages. It’s always the same crap too,  just a different restaurant. All restaurants  are the same damn way. This is how they treat their servers. 

And then they speak poorly about the waitresses. I’ve heard them called “garbage” by management.  Oh no. 

One Fair Wage will put an end to all of this. Because we deserve to be treated like professionals, with dignity. But instead we’re called garbage by the owners after we scrape their tables clean for a few dollars an hour.



Former business owner


I’m not a tipped worker and never was, but I was a restaurant chef for many years and I employed restaurant workers as a private chef and a caterer.


I was Carly Simons private chef for a while, catered her wedding, also catered Diane Sawyers wedding. I’ve worked for the University of Michigan as the Chef for UM President Bolinger, but I started out on Martha’s Vineyard working as catering and executive chef at Feasts and then Jaguar, which was mine.


In the years that I was hiring the most, during the eighties, the minimum wage was about $3.50 but I hired no one below $8 in my kitchen. I also made management give the workers other things, like housing.

Martha’s Vineyard is a resort island and it’s very expensive to live there, so I always provided my workers with housing that was not free but affordable. I also made sure the workers who stayed until the end of their contract got a $2 an hour a bonus for every hour they worked, and then they could pay their rent out of that.

Well, the last year I worked, the owners screwed everyone out of their bonus. I called the department of labor and told them the workers could not to pay their rent and I lost a job out of this at a time when I was making $25 an hour.

I had opened the Jaguar in 1988 and that was the year the economy went down, and when that happens, people don’t’ spend 60,000 a month to rent a house. I had to close. Not because I paid my workers a reasonable wage, which I always did, but because the economy went south.

Restaurants close all the time, for lots of reasons, but the notion that paying your workers a little bit more than a few dollars an hour causes restaurants to close is just ridiculous. If you charge a few pennies more you can make up for whatever you spend on wages, and you’ll have higher retention. Plus, in the states that pay regular wage plus tips like California, the percentage of successful restaurants is higher than the states where they don’t pay regular wages.

Wage theft in the restaurant industry is massive. I saw a study done of 9,0000 restaurants and the wage fraud in those 9,000 restaurants equaled in one year 5.5 million dollars. I’ve studied this, and all across the country it’s estimated $15 billion a year is lost in wage theft.

It will not break your business to pay your workers well. The $12 an hour increase, to me, is not even enough of a living wage, but we have to start somewhere.



I support One Fair Wage because all workers should be able to work full time, make a decent living, be able to support themselves and their family, and thrive.

A $12 an hour increase would mean the world to me Making $12 an hour plus tips would help relieve the daily stress of having to prioritize my sons medical care over food and shelter. That’s literally how we live.

I have a 5 year old son with autism and he has a lots of doctor appointments, evaluations therapies and different appointments I have to drive him to. Having a fair wage would give me employment that helps my family’s living situation, and I would still be able to get my son the services he needs.

I’m unemployed now, but I waited tables for 12 years. It cost me more to work so now I’m unemployed, if you can believe that.

It was just costing me more to have a job and by that I mean I didn’t earn enough money with my sub minimum wage plus tips to drive to and from work. I had to work between five and six days a week, and then I ended up making about $80 total. That’s what happens when you’re making $2.35 an hour. We get assistance from the state for my sons’ autism but we’re in this place where we’re not poor enough to get assistance, but not quite rich enough to make ends meet.

On top of the stress of not knowing if you’re going to make enough, you have to rely on the graciousness of others for your money. It was so stressful. People won’t tip if they’re not feeling good too. You saw that. As times got tougher, the tips got less and less, so I was depending on my hourly rate, which is nothing. Then I couldn’t take my son to therapy because more than half of my take home was used to get me back and forth from the job.

If I made $12 plus tips, I wouldn’t have to worry about having gas to get him to his services and get to work.




I SUPPORT ONE FAIR WAGE BECAUSE we too work hard NOT to get one fair wage. 

WITH A $12 AN HOUR RAISE PLUS TIPS, I can pay my bills on time and have enough money to feed my family. I have two children who need more than what I can give them.



I SUPPORT ONE FAIR WAGE BECAUSE I feel I work way too much on my job for $9.25 an hour. It will support me and my family. 

WHAT DOES A $12 AN HOUR RAISE PLUS TIPS MEAN TO YOU?  It means I can better provide for my friends and family and pay my bills on time. I am the mother of three children. I am a delivery driver and was in a car accident while on the job. I have six ruptured discs and head injuries. I have tingling in my body and pain and cannot work like I want to for now. I have to stand sit pool drive for eight hours a day plus getting customers food on time and hot. We also communicate with customers and make sure they are happy and satisfied 



I SUPPORT ONE FAIR WAGE BECAUSE it will mean we’ll all have more money as a living wage. We can earn more money when not tipped correctly or not tipped at all 

WITH A $12 AN HOUR RAISE PLUS TIPS, I will have more money in my pocket.