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Waffle House servers are getting a raise — to $3 an hour

6/14: CBS Morning News
6/14: CBS Morning News 19:57

Waffle House CEO Joe Rogers III says the restaurant chain is making its "single largest additional investment in our workforce" in its 68-year history by hiking base pay for servers to three bucks an hour. 

The raises take effect this month and follow a more than year-long campaign led by a union that represents service workers in the South. The effort involved strikes and petitions calling for higher pay, safer working conditions and an end to mandatory paycheck deductions for meals.  

Waffle House's base pay — excluding tips — will increase to at least $5.25 an hour for all of the company's 2,000 locations by June 2026, with additional increases based on seniority and shifts, Rogers said in a video to employees. 

Many restaurants around the U.S. offer what is known as the "tipped minimum wage." Under labor law, they can offer as little as $2.13 an hour if that amount combined with tips at least matches the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, where it has stood since 2009.

Waffle House is not changing its policy that has servers keeping their own gratuities, as it would be "crazy to go down the road of service charges instead of tips," said Rogers, who also discarded the idea of pooling tips. 

Rogers also said Waffle House will seek to offset the additional labor costs by raising its menu prices, noting that patrons at the chain's urban locations would be among those charged more. 

The company has not unveiled any actions to respond to workers' other concerns, including safety, particularly at locations that are open 24/7 and have been known to draw disorderly patrons. 

In April. a brawl at a Waffle House near Ohio State University's campus led to a shooting that killed one man, while in February an early morning shooting at a Waffle House in Indianapolis killed one person and wounded five more. 

1 killed, 5 wounded in shooting at Waffle House in Indianapolis, police say 00:22

Waggle House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Privately held Waffle House operates about 2,000 locations, including hundreds in Georgia, where the company is based. 

Some states have moved to lift the pay of restaurant workers, who are more likely to live in poverty than employees in other fields. In April, for example, the minimum wage for most fast-food workers in California rose to $20 per hour, the highest base across the U.S. restaurant industry.

Prior to the California pay hike, the highest paid fast-food workers in the U.S. were in Washington State, which has a minimum wage of $16.28 per hour.

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