Baystreet Staff -

Department of Labor Moves to Take Away Earning Power from Millions of Americans Working in the Service Industry


Filmmaker-Activist Reem Kadem Organizes Fight to Protect the Income Rights of More than 2.6-Million Affected Workers with Film, "SELF SERVE"

LOS ANGELES, CA / ACCESSWIRE / January 30, 2018 / More than 2.6-million waiters and waitresses in the USA could experience a major hit to their income if The Department of Labor has its way in gaining the approval of the Trump Administration. The Department of Labor is moving to shift the ownership of tips paid by customers from the wait-staff to the restaurant owners… a move that would directly benefit restaurant owners at the detriment and direct cost to servers nationwide. Actress, Filmmaker and Activist Reem Kadem describes this policy change as "completely unfair and unjust" and her production company, Chameleon Pictures, is producing a documentary film entitled "SELF SERVE" to help spread awareness for this proposed rule change.

"Waiters and waitresses constitute as one of the largest categories of employees in all of the United States and are among the hardest working of employees as a whole," said Reem. "Most of the millions of wait-staff workers are already fighting to survive on a lower-than-living-wage income. They depend on the tips they get for good service, and to take this crucial income away to benefit restaurant owners is short-sighted and is a transparent representation of greed. This is another example of reverse-trickle-down economic policies, with promises to help workers, while quietly implementing policies to shift money from struggling families to further enrich those that need it the least. We are hopeful that the American electorate will recognize the unfairness of this proposed Department of Labor rule change and will stand up for their friends and neighbors that comprise the wait-staff workforce of this country," she continued. "But we need our voices to be heard, and everyone can help by texting TIP to 225568 to voice to The Department of Labor why they oppose this rule - and certainly by sharing this teaser and the documentary film."

Actress, filmmaker and activist Reem Kadem, director of the short film, "Self Serve"

In the recent uproar to this issue, Reem, in conjunction with Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder of Restaurants Opportunity Center United (ROC), have banded together in the hopes of shedding light on a policy that possesses a threat to the livelihoods of millions of Americans directly, and the rest of the country through indirect and possibly devastating means. According to ROC, Government data shows that the median wage in the restaurant industry is only $8.89, which means that over half of people who work in restaurants earn below the federal poverty line for a family of three. This is not surprising, given that the federal minimum wage for those who work for tips in the industry is $2.13. Moreover, their survey work has shown that over one third (35.1%) of people who work in the restaurant industry have had to work "off the clock" for no pay, and almost half (43.9%) have worked overtime with being paid the legally mandated 150% overtime wage.

Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United)

It seems that the entertainment industry and the service industry have united in the cause of tips for survival. In recent events, at The Golden Globe's for example, actresses Meryl Streep, Amy Pohler, Natalie Portman, and others have banded together with Saru in unison for support in her efforts to shed light on the sexual harassment of women within the restaurant service industry, by wearing black. But it seems that the issue within this industry is not just that of women, albeit in itself an important cause, but that of the entire workforce within the service sector. In that essence, many are joining in lending their voices, and as often we find within the entertainment industry, many who are all too familiar with service and industry that helps sustain them while they pursue their goals. This industry is not the only affected, as millions of students, and thereby their families, stand to be affected should this proposal pass. "Imagine, if you will," said Reem, "that in a world with ever-growing educational costs, and youth populace already deeply in debt to the nation's deficit, what will happen if the earning potential of college students is ever further diminished; what will happen to their families in turn? And, what about the millions of college graduates, who opt to work in the service industry for lack of jobs in the respected markets in which they hold degrees? According to Harvard Business Review in 2016, two-thirds of college graduates were unable to secure work in their aspiring careers. This is the time to look at the big picture and see this proposal for what it truly is, which is a threat to The American Dream."

Reem's film, "SELF SERVE" is being produced as a non-profit New Media venture under the Screen Actors Guild, and a teaser-summary of the film, along with the complete short film documentary, is available for viewing free-of-charge via YouTube. The "SELF SERVE" film project is gaining momentum and support from entertainment industry professionals and a broad base of Americans - from restaurant workers and servers to the millions of customers patronizing the food-service industry. The film project is evolving and being updated as new information and participants join the fight against the policy change. Current and notable film industry participants include: Oscar-nominated Actress, Sally Kirkland, ("Anna"/JFK); Actress/Filmmaker Reem Kadem ("Nawal the Jewel"/"Blood Ride"; Neil Brown Jr. ("Straight Outta Compton"); Actress/Filmmaker Star Noor ("Where's the Dragon"); Producer/Distributor Eric Parkinson (Hannover House); Award-winning Filmmaker Jeffrey Reddick (Creator of "Final Destination"); Actress Lourdes Reynolds ("Lost Souls"); Award winning Filmmaker Michael Matteo Rossi ("Misogynist"/"Sable"); Actor/Comedian Derrick Redford (Kevin Hart's "Laugh Out Loud"); Entertainment Journalist Sanna Khan ("Where Bollywood Meets Hollywood"); and Actor/Comedian Amir K ("MADtv" and with millions of followers on YouTube).

The film's teaser can be viewed at: - while the complete short film documentary can be viewed here:

Reem Kadem is an actress and filmmaker currently residing in Los Angeles. Principal motion picture credits include "Blood Ride," in which she co-starred with James Franco, the Indian cinema epic, "Nawal the Jewel," and a plethora of notable feature film and television credits. Her most recent feature release, "Nawal the Jewel," was a major success throughout India this past summer and earned Reem critical praise from The Times of India (the nation's largest newspaper) as "…brilliant and probably the best part of the film."

Ms. Kadem is currently residing in Los Angeles and is accessible for media interviews to discuss her film and the Department of Labor rule change.

People can follow the film and its spiraling movement at the film's social media handle on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Follow "SELF SERVE": @SelfServeMovie


For information on servers/wait-staff workers that would be affected by this ruling, please see the United States Department of Labor occupational summary for restaurant waiters/waitresses:

For additional information on the Department of Labor ruling action, visit the CBS MoneyWatch article:

For more on commenting directly on the site before the February 5th deadline:

For More Information - or to Set Up an Interview with Reem Kadem, Contact:

STAR NOORBAKHSH, at Social Film Group - 352-222-8464, email: or email REEM KADEM directly at:

SOURCE: Chameleon Pictures