Nothing says working class hero like $16 avocado toast.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez returned to her bartender roots Friday, mixing drinks and serving food for an hour at a recently-opened eatery in her district as part of a push for a national wage hike for tipped workers.
But the location for the boozy event — The Queensboro in Jackson Heights — doesn’t exactly cater to Ocasio-Cortez’s working class constituents.
The one-year-old gastro pub charges a whopping $20 for a plate of rigatoni with ragu, $13 for spring pea salad and a princely $16 for avocado toast.
Pricey fare wasn’t on Ocasio-Cortez’s mind Friday, though, as she served up comped cocktails, wine and pizza to bar workers and labor group representatives as part of their “One Fair Wage” campaign.
“The federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13 an hour,” Ocasio-Cortez said in between slinging drinks. “That is unacceptable. Any job that pays $2.13 an hour is not a job — it’s indentured servitude.”
— Chris Sommerfeldt (@C_Sommerfeldt) May 31, 2019
The low federal minimum is meant to be supplemented with tips bumping up the total hourly wage to at least $7.25. In New York City, the minimum service wage is $10, provided workers receive an additional $5 in tips.
But the 29-year-old congresswoman, who worked as a bartender in Manhattan for four years before her election last year, said labor needs more “dignity” than that.
“We have to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour, nothing less,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez, who’s a co-sponsor on a House bill that would make that wage boost happen, said the current system results in tipped workers being subjected to unnecessary stress and “economic desperation.”
“We shouldn’t have to work 80-hour weeks so that our kids can have a meal at lunch,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “That’s not the way it should be.”
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) May 31, 2019
Luis Gomez, an organizing director with the Workers United labor group, said Ocasio-Cortez’s Friday afternoon bartending appearance “highlights the issue.”
“To have somebody that’s this high-profile — it really means a lot to the effort,” Gomez told the Daily News in between sips on a “perfect” gin and ginger that the congresswoman mixed up for him.
Portia Green, a bartender from the Bronx, agreed with Gomez.
“I’ve been around other political figures and they’re really cut and dry,” Green said while munching on a “Supreme” personal pizza that usually goes for $18 at the upscale eatery. “She’s real. She came and took our order and you can tell that she has lived it firsthand. You can tell she knows what you feel.”
Wrapping up her hour behind the bar, Ocasio-Cortez got a round of applause for shaking up a margarita.
“I still got it,” she laughed after pouring the drink. “I was a bit scared.”
I was nervous that I may have lost my touch – still got it! That muscle memory doesn’t quit 😉
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 31, 2019
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