Who We Are

Saru Jayaraman

Saru Jayaraman

Saru Jayaraman is co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC in New York, which has organized restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively owned restaurants. ROC now has 10,000 members in 32 cities nationwide. The story of Jayaraman and her co-founder’s work starting ROC was chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Jayaraman is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, and was named one of Crain’s New York Business “40 Under 40” in 2008 and one of New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City. She authored Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013), a national bestseller that blends personal narrative and investigative journalism to reveal the political, economic, and moral implications of dining out.

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Featured Columns

“Living Off Tips”: Restaurant Workers Campaign for a Living Wage

“Living Off Tips”: Restaurant Workers Campaign for a Living Wage

October 2, 2013

As the effort to raise the federal minimum wage gathers momentum, the author, co-founder of a restaurant workers’ advocacy group, reports on a campaign to raise awareness about an often-overlooked piece of the story—the subminimum wage for tipped workers. More »