Last night, a friend on Facebook messaged me the above editorial. I'm finding it hits home, not only for me, but also for anyone who has held a serving position in this country. Because the image may be difficult to read, here is the text:
Poor Tippers Need To Understand Reality
I want to share my thoughts after a rough night, to educate some people on the etiquette of tipping. I am a server, not a servant. I will be happy to get you what you need to make your dining experience great, but I will not be disrespected. I am a college graduate trying to make ends meet and save money to go to graduate school.
As a server, I make $2.13 an hour. My checks are zero after taxes, so all the money I make is from tips. However, even if I make 20 percent tips all night, I will walk away with only fifteen percent, because I tip out roughly five percent to bussers, bartenders, and food runners. So to those people who tip me $2 on $62, $5 on $75, and those multiple people who stiff me, I pay out of my pocket for you to come eat. I hope you enjoyed it. -Courtney Stansell, Indianapolis
Thank you, Courtney Stansell.
Many are shocked to discover the majority of American servers are making $2.13 per hour base pay. Some of us remember making that amount 25 years ago. Much of the public is also unaware that, in addition to poor wages, most servers receive no benefits, no overtime pay, no sick pay, no sick days, no vacations (paid/unpaid), and no insurance.
The demeaning treatment of servers by some of the public is shameful. It's nothing new to many who work directly with/for the public. The difference is, servers have to put up with harassment and abuse from strangers in order to receive the tips they need to pay their rent, buy their groceries, and put gas in their cars. (And most servers will tell you, they make the least in tips, if at all, from the customers who treat them the worst.) At least in other jobs, regular minimum wage workers know their paycheck will be the same whether or not they have to put up with customer abuse. Not so with servers. They are often totally dependent upon the moods of the customers (and sometimes the chefs) as to whether they'll take home enough to pay the bills.
Clearly there is a hole in the system. But there is a bigger question to be answered here.
How is it, restaurant owners are more entitled than other business owners to rake in profits while paying sub-minimum wages?
Customers have been footing the bill and responsibility for servers to make fair wages, for as long as most can remember. Meanwhile, restaurant owners and managers are also benefiting by having servers to do regular $7.25 minimum wage 'side work' like cleaning bathrooms/toilets, floors, taking out trash… for $2.13 p/hour, in between serving you your food. The system is off. It's wrong. Food servers are pressured to show up to work sick (and contagious) for fear they'll lose their jobs if they don't. Restaurant owners are taking advantage of servers and the laws that fail to protect restaurant employees. According to the EPI (Economic Policy Institute), the Department of Labor investigated 9,000 restaurants between 2010 and 2012, and found 84 percent were abusing the system.
The two memes in this diary have inspired thousands of Facebook responses. Here are just a few found on Being Liberal:
Laura xxxxx I have never tipped out of obligation and never will. Regardless of their wages. If I were to receive crappy service (and it was the servers fault...) I leave a low, or 0% tip. I tip when I receive good service. When the server is gone above the call of duty. That is what tipping is supposed to be about. If I allowed to tip cashiers I would. Sometimes they really deserve it.
Bruce xxxxx They deserve tips. They have to deal with assholes like you. ^
Jacki xxxxx Most people who think they tip based on service, don't really.
First of all, most of what a server does for you is behind the scenes, like making your salads and putting in your order, so you don't really know what kind of "service" you're getting anyway.
Secondly, the most common things people complain about at restaurants, like food taking a long time or not being cooked properly, are not the server's fault at all. In addition, the kind of time and effort the server can spare for you depends entirely on how many tables the server has, which information you are not privy to and which is outside the server's control.
Bottom line: if you don't want to tip well, you'll find an excuse not to, no matter if it's the server's actual fault or not. Generous tippers usually find reasons to tip well.
Robert xxxxx When people claim that prices will shoot up at restaurants (if owners pay full minimum wages instead); they simply aren't taking into account exactly what happens already. If you tip 20%, and the law changes to stop tips and pay people accordingly, those workers would receive an increase of 20% of each tab. This would be offset by a 20% increase to every tab. In other words, the customer will pay EXACTLY the same amount, and workers will be GUARANTEED a proper wage instead of having to pray that people don't stiff them.
Joe xxxxx I live in San Jose CA. Minimum wage is here is $10 per hour. In California minimum wage applies to wait staff. I haven't seen one restaurant close its doors due to paying their servers minimum wage. Just saying...
A personal favorite:
Antony xxxxx We have a $16.87 minimum wage in Australia and tips are not expected. Why should someone’s livelihood be reliant on another's whims?
Joshua Holland at BillMoyers.com
compiled some key findings, via EPI:
* Tipped workers’ wages typically fall at the bottom of the income ladder, even after accounting for tips.
* “Ensuring fair pay for tipped workers is also a women’s issue. Women comprise two out of every three tipped workers; of the food servers and bartenders who make up over half of the tipped workforce, roughly 70 percent are women.”
* The poverty rate for tipped workers (12.8 percent) is nearly twice that of working people subject to the full minimum wage (6.5 percent).
* The public subsidizes the incomes of tipped workers twice: directly, when we leave a gratuity, and indirectly, as 46 percent of them rely on public benefits to make ends meet.
Here is an informative 95-second video that gives some insight into the tipped employee world. If you leave the video on, several more short informative videos by EPI will follow:
This is a fascinating and disturbing topic that carries so many variables. It's clearly time for change. This country is long over due for a raise in minimum wage. We can help others by making sure that fight includes a raise for all
One group dedicated to the cause is Facebook's Raise The Minimum Wage, created by the same activists and meme-makers who run Occupy Democrats. Check them out sometime.