We are in the midst of a crisis, the COVID19. Restaurants and bars are required to close their doors for business and this includes coffee shops.
In this very specific case, the company I work for had to close its doors today and all the employees have been sent home to self quarantine in order to stop the spreading of the virus. Luckily, we work for a company that is looking after us, and more importantly, after the hourly paid employees.
However as service industry workers they depend not only on their paychecks but on their tips. Tips make up on average 20 - 30% of a barista paycheck. Even though the company is making an effort to pay the baristas their paychecks, it will not include what they make in cash and credit card tips.
Some of you know that LA is a very expensive city. Most people pay an average of $700 to $800 in rent for a SHARED space. Here, people must live with roommates, because it's nearly impossible to afford a place on your own. Utilities are nearly $100 to $150 a month and in addition to that most people in their 20's - 30's are paying for student loans.
If most baristas work 30 to 35 hours weekly (that's the average for most people), and the hourly rate is $14.25 to $15.50, baristas are receiving a paycheck of $855 to $1100 before taxes. On average, BIWEEKLY, a barista makes around $450 in tips.
If our company is only covering their paychecks for the average worked hours, these people will have very little to pay for utilities, loans, FOOD and gas, because most of their paycheck will go to pay for rent.
It does not sound fair right? But it is a reality when you live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
I work with 18 baristas, 7 of them work at the cafe I manage and the other 11 at the Arts District location.
The goal of this fundraising is to make a minimum of $3600 to be able to give each $200. IT DOES NOT MAKE UP for the total of what they would make if we were open for business but it will help. If we can raise more than that, it would be amazing but I know these are very hard days and we are all struggling to cope with what is happening. I also understand that lots of other campaigns like this one are popping up and that it’s not easy for everybody to chip in. However I also know that some of us have disposable income. That’s why we can walk into coffee shops and pay up to $8 for a cup of coffee. Now I don't mean to tell you what to do with your money but I do hope that you all can understand that being a service industry worker IS NOT EASY. A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck, and these are crisis like times. Shutting off the operation of our cafe was not easy, knowing that most of the baristas will be financially stressed is not a good feeling. But if some of you can help, and help me reach the goal, I know of 18 amazing human beings that will be forever grateful for you.
If you have ever been a server, you understand. If you haven't, you know that you interact with servers everyday of your life. Make the connection and remember that it is in times like these that we are called upon to show up for each other.