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Waffle House raises worker pay after strikes, pressure from labor organizers

Waffle House is increasing pay for its U.S. workers after a year-long push from labor advocates.

In a video message to employees late last month, Waffle House CEO Joe Rogers III said base pay would rise to at least $3 per hour in June and then gradually rise to at least $5.25 per hour by June 2026. Base pay doesn’t include workers’ tips, and will be higher in some states depending on minimum wage laws, Rogers said.

Rogers said wage increases will be paid for by higher menu prices, and that wages will rise more slowly in some rural markets than in urban ones. The company is also adding tenure bonuses and premiums for working later shifts.

Waffle House wouldn’t confirm the wage increase Tuesday when it was contacted by The Associated Press. The Union of Southern Service Workers, a labor group affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, provided the AP with a link to the video.

Over the last year, the Union of Southern Service Workers has held strikes at Waffle House locations to demand higher pay, 24-hour security at restaurants and an end to the company’s practice of deducting $3.15 per day from workers’ paychecks for meals regardless of whether they eat while on the job.

The group also has asked the Department of Labor to review the meal deductions.

“The raises show that the company is feeling the heat,” Katie Giede, a Waffle House server in Atlanta who wants to see wages increased to $25 per hour, said. “We’re going to keep organizing and keep fighting until we win.”

Waffle House has 2,000 restaurant locations across the U.S., primarily in the South and Midwest. The company has its corporate headquarters in Norcross, Georgia.

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