(QUEENS, New York) — AOC is still A-OK mixing drinks, despite taking over a year off from work as a bartender.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in a little bit of political theater on Friday as she returned to work at a bar in Jackson Heights, Queens. The appearance was part of a bid to draw attention to increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour across the whole country.
Ocasio-Cortez famously tended bar and worked as a waitress in Manhattan’s Union Square — not Jackson Heights, a neighborhood she now represents in Congress — in the time leading up to her historic primary victory over incumbent Joe Crowley on June 26, 2018.
“I was nervous that I may have lost my touch — still got it!” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “That muscle memory doesn’t quit.”
The 29-year-old spoke to plenty of cameras and a few customers Friday afternoon.
“The federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13 an hour. That is unacceptable,” Ocasio-Cortez told patrons. “Any job that pays $2.13 an hour is not a job. It’s indentured servitude. All labor — all labor — has dignity, and the way that we give labor dignity is by paying people the respect and the value that they are worth at minimum.
“We have to make one fair wage and we have to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour — nothing less.”
The federally tipped minimum wage refers to the salary workers who receive tips must be paid. Those workers include servers and bartenders.
The minimum wage is already $15 per hour in New York City, where Ocasio-Cortez was tending bar on Friday, though tipped workers make only $10 per hour (large businesses) or $9 per hour (small businesses). New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill mandating $15 per hour for the metro area and $12.50 for the rest of the state for the 2016-17 budget.
New Jersey, Illinois and Maryland have also instituted minimum wages that will gradually increase to $15 over the next few years, following in the footsteps of New York and California, the first state to enact a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Democratic presidential candidates Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have all promised to fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage if elected to the White House.
The federal minimum wage, which has not changed since 2009, is $7.25 per hour.
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