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2 in 3 tipped workers are women, most are restaurant workers, half are 30 years or older, 1 in 3 are parents and 1 in 6 of those rely on free lunches to feed their children, 1 in 7 rely on food stamps.

The minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 an hour. I repeat, $2.13. It's been frozen for well over 20 years, since 1991, but the minimum wage increase Democrats are pushing would increase it over a period of several years. So on Feb. 13—2/13—the Restaurant Opportunities Centers and a group of tipped workers were on Capitol Hill lobbying for the raise.

The push to raise the tipped worker minimum wage meets strong resistance from the restaurant industry, which has successfully prevented it from being included in recent increases to the basic minimum wage. And the restaurant industry is still at it:

"Tipped employees at restaurants are among the highest-paid employees in the establishment, regularly earning between $16 and $22 an hour," [National Restaurant Association spokesman Scott] DeFife said in an email. "Nobody is making $2.13 an hour.
It's true that tips are supposed to raise workers to at least the basic minimum wage of $7.25. But while some servers do make good money, that's at higher-end restaurants. If you look across the country at the full range of restaurants in which workers are paid $2.13 an hour, the median wage for tipped workers is $8 an hour, including tips—which means half of tipped workers make less. One in five tipped workers across the country lives in poverty, a number that reaches one in four for people of color. And we know that raising the tipped worker minimum wage makes a difference: In states where the tipped worker minimum wage is higher, tipped worker poverty is lower.

The restaurant industry has had its way, keeping wages at poverty levels, long enough. It's time to raise the wage.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 01:01 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

    •  It's enough (12+ / 0-)

      to merit filing an income tax return.  Paperwork wages only.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 01:30:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I AM a tipped employee (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Outside of the 3 months I spent as an attorney, the worst time of my life, I have worked in the restaurant industry. 2.63 is atrocious.  I had many shifts where I had to ask my company for public transit fare after showing up for work.  Yeah, I had shifts I made less than $2 dollars, and that would be one of my five shifts.  I once brought up the "minimum," I was informed its not based on the day, or even the week, but per paycheck.  So because I worked 15 shifts in 14 days and I managed to get above the 7.25 an hour over those two weeks combined ( NOT counting my tip out, i.e. other eomployess at 2.63 and hour I give my tips), they owed me nothing, forget the fact I had to show up for days, I did not make enough to pay my $2  subway ride home.   You know, I made $8 dollars, but had to give $3 to the busser, $3 dollars to my bartender, and $1 to the food runner.   Sure Maybe I could cut a dollar or two from those I "tip out"  but, lets face it, even on a slow shift, no one likes getting nothing…….and all of these employees I tip, comes from my pocket, not the company, but be "cheap" and see how much these people work to get your drink or food up, why work hard for a person who monetarily says you do not work for them. We ALL were earning $2.63 an hour, and were "working together"  I worked at Cheesecake Factory for a many years, all through law school.  I knew I had I had to "tip"7% away of the hopefully "20%" I earned. SO basically I was walkng away with 10-13% not 20% plus my $2.63 an hour…….it barely helped me sustain a life while in law school, with loans, but certainly not a life…….it needs to change!!!!
      I now work as a bartender as a union employee, and I have good weeks and bad, but receive a sustainable wage that, no matter, its worth me showing up for work, and I do.  I always did, but NOW I feel it worthwhile.  

  •  Another thing MONICA’s thong cost us. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Proud to be part of the 21st Century Democratic Majority Party of the 3M's.. Multiracial, Multigender and MiddleClass

    by LOrion on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 01:16:40 PM PST

  •  Eliminate the tip offset (14+ / 0-)
    It's true that tips are supposed to raise workers to at least the basic minimum wage of $7.25.
    The workers, by law, must make no less than the minimum wage in their state, although in many states the tip can be part of the wage.  There are many workers in addition to restaurant servers that are in this tipped category.  Airport wheelchair pushers are one, for example.

    Yes, many employers don't make up any shortfall, and many workers, and probably some employers don't know that it must equal the minimum.  We need better education and enforcement.

    My state does not have the tip offset.  Tipped workers get the full minimum wage plus their tips.  Things seem to work out OK...the whole country can do this.

  •  This is an example of government (7+ / 0-)

    chooses winners and losers; it's government intervening on the behalf of employers by allowing them to play less than the amount American citizens have contracted for.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 01:57:22 PM PST

  •  Pay all workers a standard wage (16+ / 0-)

    and do away with tips. Simple as that. It would even make it easier on the employers not having to account separately for the tips, especially in cases where the tip is added to the charge slip (which business people will do in order to add them to the expense account). Restaurants could still charge a service fee for larger parties just like they do now, to be split between the server and other staff that takes care of the party (someone to clear off the dirty dishes and such). It would also discourage discrimination against smaller parties -- some servers don't like waiting on parties of 1 or 2 diners because the tips are smaller.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 02:21:02 PM PST

    •  Good idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peachcreek, Mannie

      In theory.  I was talking to a person from Germany the other day.  He was surprised by the high tip rates common in the USA.  In the UK, if you tip your bartender when you get your ale, they slide that money right back at you.

      Some tipped workers make very good money, and taking away tips would place the "burden" of paying them a decent wage back on the employer.  Plus there is the whole "merit" argument about giving a better tip if your service is especially good or giving a smaller tip if it is especially good or bad. I get the point, but does this system really work as advertised?

      And then there is the issue of taxation.  I have no idea what percent of tips are reported to the IRS, but we can be confident that it is less than 100%.  That means there is income that is not taxed. i.e., it is part of the underground economy.

      Bottom line:  the whole issue of tipping is a big can-o-worms. I doubt many politicians will touch it.

      Secrecy breeds hypocrisy.

      by YankInUK on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 05:46:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tipping should be abolished (7+ / 0-)

      as part of compensation for work.  Your work should get you a legal wage.  Professions that want to keep tipping alive a supplement to a legal wage can do so if they want, I guess, but no more 'in place of regular pay'.  

      Here's the main problem: racial minorities are given fewer and smaller tips than white people, both by whites customers and by customers from racial minorities.  So long as this is true, it is immoral and functionally illegal (if anyone were to seriously challenge it) as a form of wage replacement.

      Also, studies tend to refute the idea that better service nets better tips.  It's widely believed in service fields, but statistically, most people don't tip that way.

      No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful. Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful.

      by Kid Zemo on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:07:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I tend to tip higher (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mannie, skybluewater, peptabysmal

        when I'm dining alone just because I know I require just as much work as another table (I do like my iced tea and appreciate frequent refills), but because my bill isn't that high the tip wouldn't normally be that much. Server's race never enters into it. But that's just me...

        There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

        by Cali Scribe on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:15:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Yeah, it's hard to imagine having that be a factor.  The fact that it's common enough to be undeniable in the data is disturbing.

          A fun game I like to play is the 200% tip on a small ticket.  It doesn't cost that much and makes someone's day.

          No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful. Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful.

          by Kid Zemo on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:35:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Better service may not equal better tips (0+ / 0-)

        but better tips definitely equal better service for regulars.

        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

        by benamery21 on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 08:35:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  20 years. Before that it was $2.01 (10+ / 0-)

    It's not like tipped employees have been living off of a huge pay increase for the last 20 years.

    Who else got a 12 cent raise 20 years ago, and is happy?

    I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong. Seldom turns out the way it does in this song.

    by mungley on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 02:52:35 PM PST

  •  Kinda nice if you own a resturaunt (5+ / 0-)

    "I won't pay em, I'll get the schmucks eating my swill to pay em. They work for me how smart could they be? They don't deserve it."

    “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

    by Mokislab on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 03:31:39 PM PST

  •  Thank you all who are concerned... (18+ / 0-)

    about the tipped employee minimum wage exemption.

    But PLEASE know there is an equally important sidebar issue. Using employees being paid the tipped wage rate for work that should be performed by people being paid the full minimum wage.

    Trust me, it's rampant in the industry. It's becoming a quick and easy method to reduce labor costs.

    Here's how it works, make people earning #2.63 (my example) do jobs like mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen, picking up trash in the parking lot. You name it, it's being asked of a person making half or less the minimum wage.

    There are several lawsuits in some stage of the process throughout the country over this.

    I can personally attest to the practice, even though in my state the labor law clearly states if the employee is required to do non-tip related activities they must be paid the minimum wage. In fact, the US Labor Department has issued guidance on the Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage exemption for tipped employees that outlines a standard of 25% of time on the clock. If the requirement to do work that is not related to an activity that could produce a tip more than 25% of the time, that employee must be paid minimum wage for that portion of their time.

    Why is it the law only applies to the poorest?

    One more thing. The place where I used to work literally took taxes out of the money that was taken from servers to pay tip-outs to the hosts and bartenders. That's right, they reported it as income to you, then took the tip-out from your net pay. You never received it, but you paid taxes on it.

    Any CPAs out there? Please explain to me how that is legal? By the way, they also took taxes out of the money that was redistributed to the hosts and bartenders. Were they pocketing the difference? Sure seems that way.

    It makes me want scream.

    •  Slave labor (7+ / 0-)

      Exactly!  I was appalled when I learned that my daughter had to polish brass, roll silverware and many other odd jobs that prevented her from earning tips from customers.  This was 18 years ago and the hourly rate was $2.13 then as it STILL is now. I told her that was slave labor and to get the hell out of that job.  She did.    

    •  good call (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've been forced to wash dishes, take care of mouse traps, even cook!!!!  (staffing cuts)  You take it in stride as a server earning $2.63, you have to make the money…..but its a sick and horrible industry.  I doubt it will change, we all love our meals to be cheap, its why we go out so often to eat, and fuel the economy.  It just would be nice, for once to NOT fuel our economy by keeping a large group down and poor.  
      I am lucky, I am union now, so I get a fair wage even when not busy. They respect my time, and the work I do, even if I do not wait on many people.

  •  Fuck these bastards. If you can't share a modicum (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayBat, commonmass, Pale Jenova, Mannie

    of wealth with your employees, you shouldn't be in business. Or you should lose your goddamned, greedy enterprise.

    Blow this.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 05:38:16 PM PST

  •  It's time to eliminate the tip/wage system (11+ / 0-)

    in this country. In plenty of other economies, including just about every country in Europe and I believe, also Australia, no one relies on tips to fill out their wage. Furthermore, workers like waiters  in these countries are paid not just a minimum wage, but a living wage.

    Our labor practices as a nation are deplorable and embarrassing.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 05:43:06 PM PST

  •  Tipped workers do make $25 an hour (0+ / 0-)

    on a good day and are probably making twice as much as the cooks and three times as much as the stewards.  When business slows and you only get one or two slow six hour shifts a week you certainly are not making enough to make ends meet much less $25 an hour.

  •  I guess it would be (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch, Mannie, peptabysmal

    too much to ask then for the employers to pay a living wage, like other civilized countries do. Having worked for several years as a waitress in America, I feel that the existing system of minimum wage/tipping is not only exploitive, but entrenches really unproductive and unfavorable environments. Can you imagine how much different the experience would be for all, if the staff were satisfied.

    'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

    by janis b on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:10:16 PM PST

  •  Back in the 1980s (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was a waiter in a Mexican restaurant in NJ, making $2.01 an hour, but my tips were around $200 per night on a Friday and Saturday,  $50-60 during the week.  So I was earning over $600 per week in tips or $2400 a month, not bad for a college kid,  serving $12 burritos and $5 margaritas.  Cooks were making $7.00 per hour and wanted to be waiters, but couldn't speak English so they were stuck in the kitchen, slow night happen, and you earn nothing those days, but good restaurants have busy nights where you work your tushy off and take home a pocket full of cash, just remember to claim 10% before you go home for the IRS.  

  •  What this means (3+ / 0-)

    When you give a tip, it isn't going to the waiter--it goes straight into the pockets of the owner--unless the restaurant is busy enough to push the total take over the minimum wage.

    Some states (like OR, MN, and I believe, WA) do not allow this clawback of tips--they mandate minimum wage plus tips. The restaurant lobby squeals and whines, and yet, we have more restaurants per capita here in Portland than just about anywhere.

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:21:09 PM PST

  •  umm..NO. Many places you 'tip out' bussers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, cablecargal

    cooks etc, (waitress have to split their tips) . On a 'good night' if you work in a better restaurant (not a 'spoon') you can work your ass off, that is rare to get 25.00  an hour.

    Even if your costumer service reputation as a waitress is really good it sucks to have to  depend on the 'largesse' of your customers to meet your basic needs. It is not a dependable regular source of income.

    and yes you have to do a lot of extra non waitress duties as well. Try and complain and see how long you keep your job.

    Source, my daughter, who has been a waitress for years.

    They need a raise and better working conditions yesterday.

  •  Holy shit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This makes me feel guilty for tipping even 20% (when I had the money to eat in nicer restaurants).

    Living is easy with eyes closed...

    by skybluewater on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:40:19 PM PST

    •  Don't feel bad, you do the right thing, (0+ / 0-)

      It is the way the system is set up, and not your fault. The onus, and blame lies on the greedy 'hospitality industry' , and their lobbyists. Most customers don't know these things unless they, or a family member works in the industry.

  •  One thing that isn't mentioned (0+ / 0-)

    is that female servers have to act "sexy" or interested to try to get a bigger tip. Male servers get lower tips than females on average.

    The "Hooters" analogy.

  •  What is the point of raising it? (0+ / 0-)

    If someone is now making less then minimum wage, the employer is required to make up the difference.

    If someone is making more then minimum wage, then this is just a straight up raise for them (since they still keep the tips).

    So raising this wage is only raising the wages of the highest paid people in this industry.

    I think this whole concept should be eliminated and people paid a fair wage without tips.

    We were not ahead of our time, we led the way to our time.

    by i understand on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:46:42 PM PST

  •  The other thing is (0+ / 0-)

    these jobs give employers total control of the employee's hours, shifts, attire, demeanor, performance, speech, knowledge of foods and wines and so on for a measly 2 bucks an hour. The employer totally controls tipped workers. The fact that they might make more money if the customers decide to tip them should not be a factor in the employee-employer relationship. Each owner can also decide whether the tips are pooled. In essence, the employer pays the employee virtually nothing in return for creating an opportunity to make more money that is controlled by the owner's menu, pricing, staff, location and success. None of these factors are in the control of the tipped worker, all they can control is their behavior at the table. While it is true that in successful restaurants the tipped workers can make some very good money, does anyone think a waiter at a Cracker Barrel or Waffle House is taking home large tips?

    Do facts matter anymore?

    by Sinan on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 07:13:28 AM PST

  •  MIN WAGE (0+ / 0-)


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