By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — Relief is on the way for many Chicago restaurants struggling in the pandemic. The city will help distribute $1 million in relief for restaurant owners, particularly in minority communities.

Grants will come from One Fair Wage, a non-profit that advocates for restaurant workers. Restaurant owners who commit to paying a full minimum wage to all workers by 2026 are eligible. Supporters say it’s a lifeline.

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“With the pandemic, what was an issue of economic, racial, and gender injustice has become an issue of life and death,” said Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage.

“This $1 million grant program will help Chicago restaurants and restaurant workers during this time of need, while helping to pave the way for one fair wage for Chicago restaurant workers; a full minimum wage with tips on top,” Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) said.

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Most restaurant workers are paid less than the standard minimum wage because they get tips.

A recent One Fair Wage survey of restaurant workers in Illinois found:

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  • 53% reported at least one or more of their co-workers had contracted COVID-19;
  • 84% of workers reported tips have declined during the pandemic, with 69% percent saying tips are down by at least half;
  • 77% reported experiencing or witnessing hostile behavior from customers in response to staff enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff