Workers’ Center and Local Restaurants (Plum Tree/Sushi o Sake) Announce Settlement and Community Responsibility Agreements

After many months of negotiations, the Tompkins County Workers’ Center has reached a settlement of a longstanding labor dispute with Plum Tree and Sushi o Sake Japanese Restaurants in Ithaca. As part of the settlement the restaurants have signed a Community Responsibility Agreement (CRA) that sets a new standard for worker rights in the restaurant industry. The CRA can be found at

Besides the CRA, the settlement includes a monetary payment to nine workers of $6,800 in tip and overtime restitution. According to the National Employment Law Project, this is the first time a Community Responsibility Agreement has been accomplished in New York State outside of New York City without government assistance. (See Ithaca Journal story here.) The Workers’ Center commends Plum Tree and Sushi o Sake for their forward-thinking in working with the workers on the issues we brought to them.

All restaurant workers need to know that State law prohibits mandatory tip pooling. In other words, management of a restaurant cannot force an employee to share her or his tips with other employees without the voluntary consent of the employee. And management itself is absolutely prohibited from sharing in tips that are meant for employees.

The Workers’ Center has grown tremendously in the past 10 months since the workers from the restaurants came calling. We have since founded a Worker Justice Organizing Committee of which several of the workers from the restaurants are an intimate part, helping to organize across service and retail industries (joining with hotel and other low-wage industry workers) to create change in terms of living wages and workers’ rights. A special holler out goes to Yuko Jingu, Yumi Busby, and Jerome Cornett for their tireless efforts in working towards a settlement in this particular situation.