Service industry workers are the backbone of the downtown Knoxville economy – without us, the cafes, restaurants, bars, microbreweries, boutiques, and hotels would shut down. Yet while these establishments continue to produce more wealth for their owners and more services intended for tourists and suburban visitors, the city-area workers they depend on continue to struggle with precarious lives characterized by poverty, poor access to healthcare, inconsistent work hours, and discrimination.

  1. Knoxville has a notably high concentration of service industry workers in comparison to other U.S. cities.
  2. A sustainable city is not one where incoming businesses and developers reap the benefits of underpaid gig workers, delivery people, servers, and other agents of their convenience.
  3. New businesses that contribute to increases in property values have an obligation to pay wages high enough to afford the cost of living in the area.
  4. Knoxville rents are rising rapidly at 4x the national average, and restaurants are bringing a nationally high average of $3,794 annually per capita, while the service industry wage standard remains frozen at $2.13 per hour, supplemented by a minimum guaranteed cumulative earning of $7.25 per hour.
  5. An hourly wage of $7.25 is not enough to afford cost of living here. At the current rate of city-wide inflation, we believe that a guaranteed wage of $16.00 per hour is the livable minimum.