“Waging Change” Doc Shines Light on Tipped Workers, Who Make $3.67 An Hour In Michigan

Directed by Peabody award-winning filmmaker Abby Ginzberg, “Waging Change” follows service industry workers in Detroit and across the country as they struggle to make ends meet and the activists fighting for a higher wage for tipped workers.

The minimum wage for tipped workers in Michigan is $3.67. Starting in January 2021, that will go up to $3.75.

And the federal minimum wage for restaurant servers and bartenders is currently $2.31 an hour.

“Workers are depending on your tips just to make their minimum wage.” — Abby Ginzberg, documentary filmmaker

The low wages of tipped workers in Michigan and in other states is the focus of the documentary “Waging Change,” which is part of the 7th annual Freep Film Festival happening now through December 6th.

Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Abby Ginzberg, “Waging Change” follows service industry workers in Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans to share their experiences and struggles to make ends meet. 

What’s changed for tipped workers in the past 5 years? Listen to the full conversation with Abby Ginzberg, director of “Waging Change.”

The documentary also follows the work of activists to raise the wage for tipped workers as well as efforts to reduce sexual harassment in workplaces in bars and restaurants, where 70% of the workforce is women.

“People assume if there is something called the minimum wage, everyone is getting it. The situation with tipped workers has always been an outlier,” says Ginzberg. Since the pandemic, “there’s been a renewed focus on the restaurant industry… and increased consciousness about how vulnerable workers in restaurants actually are.

“Waging Change” is screening now as part of the Freep Film Festival through December 6th. See this and other Michigan-centric documentaries via FreepFilmFest.com.

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.