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Group accuses Applebee's of discrimination through wages



REBEKAH ROBINSON, HOST: A new report from the worker advocacy group One Fair Wage says there's a gap between what Applebees workers in different New York neighborhoods are paid. And that gap results in white workers being paid more.


Julian Abraham headed to midtown Manhattan this morning where workers set up outside a shareholder meeting to protest the findings.


JULIAN ABRAHAM, REPORTER: It’s 8 a.m., and protesters in matching bright orange t-shirts are gathered in a circle outside of a Marriott hotel on 59th street across from Central Park.


They’re holding up black and white signs that read “Applebees is racist.”


PROTEST AUDIO: "What do we want? Fair wages! When do we want it? Now!"


JULIAN ABRAHAM: The protest’s organizer, “One Fair Wage” says the restaurants pay workers in predominantly white neighborhoods like midtown, 15 dollars an hour. While in predominantly Black areas like the Bronx, servers say they’re making less.


Arielle Edwards has been a server at Applebee’s for about 15 years. She works in Portland Oregon, and like many of the workers protesting here today, came from across the country to protest.


ARIELLE EDWARDS, PROTESTOR: "I feel like a lot of times our voices aren't heard. I feel like I wasn't taken seriously because I'm Hispanic. I was like, the only Hispanic person up there."


Arielle says in a typical year, she only makes around $15,000. But she’s so busy at work she barely has time to see her kids. Often, they have to come see her at Applebees just to spend time together.


ARIELLE EDWARDS: “We deserve to be able to take our kids on those vacations. Take them to go get the shoes that they want. Well, we can't because we are working for barely anything.”


JULIAN ABRAHAM: According to census data the cost of living - which includes rent, food and utilities – is less expensive in outer boroughs than Manhattan. For example, living in the Bronx means bills can be up to 45% less.


And costs are one of the things shareholders of Dine Brands, the parent company of Applebees are here to discuss today. Past the shiny gold doors of the hotel, upstairs, in a conference room, shareholders will be holding a vote. To decide on whether to raise pay for some of the workers in their restaurants.


Back outside, Nataly Chalco is representing One Fair Wage. Restaurants are not required to pay their workers the standard minimum wage in New York - $15 - as long as those workers can earn tips. But Chelko’s goal is to see all restaurant workers - get that $15 including the ones who get tips.


NATALY CHALCO, OFW ORGANIZER: “You know, if they don't, if they're not forced to do so then they're not going to, that's why one fair wage is fighting to make it a law, right that restaurants should be required to pay the full minimum wage to their employees.”


JULIAN ABRAHAM: Chalco says she’s not sure what the outcome will be of the vote upstairs – but is optimistic.


When asked for comment on what One Fair Wage calls racist pay practices, Applebee’s, IHOP, and Dine Brand – the parent company – did not respond before airtime.


As for the vote, the results will be released tomorrow.


Julian Abraham, Columbia Radio News.


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