A sign outside of a Waffle House restaurant

Yes, Obviously Waffle House Workers Deserve Livable Wages

Waffle House workers are rallying for better working conditions, and while it should go without saying, they absolutely do deserve to make livable wages. Employees are currently lobbying to raise their wages to $25/hour, which would apply to all Waffle House restaurant locations’ workers, cooks, and servers. While the demand is reasonable, it has, unfortunately, sparked debate on social media as some people strangely don’t want workers to make livable wages.

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Anytime blue-collar workers, especially those in the fast food or customer service industries, advocate for better pay and working conditions, it sparks a deluge of angry responses. Many of these display a gross sense of superiority over these laborers, despite the fact that everyone frequently uses and enjoys these services. Many white-collar workers don’t want blue-collar workers to make close to the same wages they earn, believing they somehow have the authority to decide which jobs require more skill or deserve more pay.

No matter how these people spin it, being genuinely disgruntled about someone making a livable wage is quite horrifying. The fact is that, if a job is important enough to be filled, it should pay a livable wage. No one has to prove that their job is difficult enough in another’s eyes to be paid decently. In today’s economy, $25 doesn’t even go very far. Meanwhile, Waffle House workers have highlighted other unfair practices that need changing, as well as giving individuals a glimpse into the work they do and the challenges they face daily while lacking appropriate compensation.

Waffle House workers fight for better working conditions

Last week, rallies were held at several Waffle House locations across the Southeast, including Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Workers showed up with signs and megaphones, listing their demands and drawing crowds of supporters. They also backed up their efforts by launching a petition with the Union of Southern Service Workers outlining their needs and urging others to sign to support them.

These demands are quite reasonable. As mentioned above, the primary demand is to raise wages to $25/hour. While everyone deserves a livable wage, users on social media have highlighted just what these workers go through on a daily basis. One video making the rounds shows a Waffle House employee getting a chair thrown at them. Violence against fast food workers is far too common, and many employees regularly face harassment, threats, and verbal and physical abuse from customers. The threat of gun violence also remains a serious issue for these workers.

This is also why Waffle House workers are asking for a safer work environment. They are requesting the company provide 24/7 security and allow workers to have a say in Safety Plans for their restaurants. This problem must be addressed immediately, especially considering that a Waffle House in Nashville was the location of a mass shooting in 2022 that claimed four lives. In addition to violence, workers also have concerns about natural disasters, especially in places like Florida, where hurricanes are common. The restaurant chain is notorious for wanting to remain open no matter what, sometimes forcing employees to work through hurricanes for minimum wage.

The last major concern workers want to be addressed is the mandatory meal deduction policy. Waffle House has an odd policy in which it deducts $3.15 daily from every employee’s paycheck to cover the cost of employee meals. However, it does this even for employees who don’t eat while working. Employees shouldn’t be paying for food they’re not eating and should also have the freedom to choose if they want the deduction or prefer to pack a lunch/eat elsewhere for their meals. Most restaurants simply offer employees staff meals to purchase at a discounted rate. The mandatory deduction policy makes very little sense.

Waffle House responds to worker demands

A spokesperson for Waffle House issued a statement acknowledging that the company was aware of the rallies and demands. The statement also tried to claim that those protesting weren’t Waffle House employees, seemingly trying to downplay how wide this worker effort is. However, the statement did conclude by claiming that Waffle House’s management was working to address employees’ concerns. While it isn’t the most promising statement, hopefully, employees’ continued fight for their rights will prove fruitful.

Waffle House was also one of several major corporations found to be funding Atlanta’s police force, including a $90 million project to build Cop City, an 85-acre police training facility. If it has enough money to fund Cop City, it should have enough to pay its workers adequately.

Waffle House demands its restaurants remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and often requires its employees to work through hurricanes and in restaurants that lack security. It’s high time it acts to protect and fairly compensate the workers it has long required so much of in exchange for so little.

(featured image: jetcityimage/Getty Images)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.