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Two industry insiders address worker pay in the restaurant business

Restaurant food

Editor's note: This encore edition of Due South originally aired February 26, 2024.

Jen Hampton had worked in the restaurant industry for three decades – as a server and then a cook – when the pandemic hit. That’s when she became an activist to promote better pay and working conditions for restaurant workers. Today, she helps restaurant workers in Western NC organize for living wages and advocates for practical solutions to help workers make ends meet.

Jen Hampton, organizer, Asheville Food and Beverage United

Restaurants have gone through more than a few growing pains in recent years – and for some, part of that growing has meant reimagining restaurant worker pay.

Chef Sam Diminich is part of a movement of chef/owners in Charlotte who advocate for better wages for restaurant workers. He's also a co-leader of Ben’s Friends Charlotte, a support group for members of the food and beverage industry who struggle with substance abuse.

Sam Diminich, owner, Restaurant Constance

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Jeff Tiberii is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Jeff joined WUNC in 2011. During his 20 years in public radio, he was Morning Edition Host at WFDD and WUNC’s Greensboro Bureau Chief and later, the Capitol Bureau Chief. Jeff has covered state and federal politics, produced the radio documentary “Right Turn,” launched a podcast, and was named North Carolina Radio Reporter of the Year four times.
Rachel McCarthy is a producer for "Due South." She previously worked at WUNC as a producer for "The Story with Dick Gordon." More recently, Rachel was podcast managing editor at Capitol Broadcasting Company where she developed narrative series and edited a daily podcast. She also worked at "The Double Shift" podcast as supervising producer. Rachel learned about audio storytelling at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Prior to working in audio journalism, she was a research assistant at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC.