South O’ the Highway

Sarah Jessica Parker Fights for Tipped Workers, They Fight Back

No good deed goes unpunished.

Bridgehampton’s Sarah Jessica Parker, like many celebrities, is a bit of a social justice warrior, supporting life-changing causes such as UNICEF, Joining Forces and the Human Rights Campaign. However, her latest push for change is receiving an enormous amount of pushback.

In March, she united with more than a dozen A-list actresses, including Hamptonites Debra Messing and Reese Witherspoon, to draft a letter urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers. Not struggling to pay rent themselves, the actresses’ action would ideally be seen as altruistic, something to be praised by tipped workers across New York.

That’s not what happened.

500 restaurant workers responded by signing an open letter, organized by Outback Steakhouse bartender Maggie Raczynski, to the Hollywood elites telling them to back off. “You’ve been misled that we earn less than minimum wage… Thank you for your concern. But we don’t need your help, and we’re not asking to be saved,” they wrote. A major fear that the workers addressed is if employers are forced to pay their restaurant staff more, they will cut down staff size to keep the budget balanced.

Things have only escalated in the last two months. In late May, Parker hosted a fundraiser for One Fair Wage, an organization fighting for an increased minimum wage across the country and the abolishment of lower tipper wages. The whole event had to be kept secret from the very people the fundraiser sought to help. The location of the event was only given out to people who purchased tickets or tables, which went for as much as $50,000, to avoid a run-in with protesters.

Many angry restaurant workers attempted to guess the fundraiser’s location, but both presumed Manhattan venues were proven incorrect. One would-be protest went as far as to purchase a $500 ticket to gain the whereabouts of the event, but after his social media was screened to find countless anti-One Fair Wage posts, his ticket was nullified and his money returned. The event was moved to an undisclosed private home and managed to avoid any trouble.

It will be interesting to see how long Parker continues to fight for a group that has made it clear that it doesn’t want anyone’s help. Hopefully, her next cause will be less controversial.

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