Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley and Co-Founder of the consumer engagement campaign, The Welcome Table. She authored Behind the Kitchen Door, a groundbreaking exploration of the political, economic, and moral implications of dining out (Cornell University Press, 2013).
After 9/11, with displaced World Trade Center restaurant workers, she co-founded ROC in New York, which organizes restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conducts research and policy work, partners with responsible employers, and launched cooperatively-owned restaurants. Now a national organization, ROC United has 10,000 members across 26 cities and local offices in NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington DC, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, and Oakland. The founding of ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American.
Ms. Jayaraman is a frequent presenter on the low-wage workforce, specifically on the restaurant industry and raising the tipped minimum wage from the federal standard of $2.13 per hour. She has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, MSNBC, NBC Nightly News, and PBS, among others. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She co-edited The New Urban Immigrant Workforce, (ME Sharpe, 2005). She was profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, and was named one of Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2008 and one of New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City.