themcglynn.com

12 Jan

The federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers hasn’t changed in the last 20 years

Dear The McGlynn,

Pop quiz: What was the federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers in
the United States in 1992 (20 years ago)? Answer: $2.13 an hour. Next
question: Right now, in 2012, what’s the federal minimum wage for tipped
restaurant workers? Answer: Still only $2.13 an hour.

Yikes!

Sad, but true: The federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers hasn’t
changed in the last 20 years. And while employers are supposed to make sure tips
make up the difference between $2.13 and $7.25 (the federal minimum wage for
non-tipped workers), the enforcement is difficult, and tip theft – when
restaurant owners take a cut of employee’s tips – is a major problem.
Further, tips are very inconsistent, varying widely by day, week, and season,
which leaves restaurant workers vulnerable to the $2.13 per hour base
pay.  [1,2]

This is a bad situation.  And women are bearing the brunt of this problem
since 71% of servers and 66% of tipped restaurant workers are women.

*Have you, a friend or family member, ever worked, or do you still
work, in the restaurant industry as a tipped worker and had to make a living or
support a family on $2.13 an hour? Were you raised by parents who worked in
restaurants and counted on tips to make up the difference in their wages? How
was that for you, your friends, or your family? http://action.momsrising.org/go/1474?akid=3072.1590094.6iSYfl&t=4

Sharing your experience can help make a big difference. We’re
compiling your experiences into a book to share with members of Congress about
why the federal minimum wage for tipped workers needs to be raised. Your
experiences are powerful.   In fact, personal stories are one of our most
powerful tools in advocating for family economic security in policies.

Why is it important to raise the minimum wage for tipped
workers?

For 20 years now, tipped workers in the restaurant industry and elsewhere
have toiled for a miserable wage.  As a result, this workforce of mostly women
has three times the poverty rate of the rest of the United States workforce, and
more than half of all restaurant workers live below the federal poverty line for
a family of three. [3]

We can change this by urging Congress to pass the Working for Adequate Gains
for Employment in Services (WAGES) Act which is the first bill ever introduced
into Congress focused on tipped workers. This bill would significantly close the
wage gap that currently exists between tipped employees and all other workers.
[4]

The WAGES Act would do this in 3 steps:

  • It would raise the minimum wage of tipped employees from the current level
    of $2.13 per hour to $3.75 per hour 90 days after enactment.
  • It would then raise the minimum wage of tipped employees to $5.00 per hour
    one year after enactment.
  • Finally, two years after enactment, the tipped minimum wage would be
    increased to 70% of minimum wage, but no less than $5.50 per hour.

We’ve found that bringing forward the voices of MomsRising members is our
most effective way to create change in Congress.  So we are collecting and
compiling your experiences and will deliver them to elected officials.

*Have you–a friend or family member–ever worked, or do you still
work, in the restaurant industry as a tipped worker and had to make a living or
support a family on $2.13 an hour? Were you raised by parents who worked in
restaurants and counted on tips to make up the difference in their wages? How
was that for you, your friends, or your family?

http://action.momsrising.org/go/1474?akid=3072.1590094.6iSYfl&t=6

And be sure to pass this email on to friends and family-and post the
action link on Facebook too–so others can share their
experiences!

Together we’re a powerful force for women and families.

-Ruth, Monifa, Elisa, Mary, Kristin and the whole MomsRising.org team

P.S.  Big thanks to our friends at Restaurant
Opportunities Center United
for their work on this important issue!

[1] Wiser
Waitress

[2] ROC-United.
Behind the Kitchen Door: A Multi-site Study of the Restaurant Industry,
2011.

[3] Allegretto,
S. and Filion, K. Waiting for Change: The $2.13 Federal Subminimum Wage.
Economic Policy Institute and Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics Briefing
Paper #297, 2011.

[4] Bill
text,
112th Congress (2011-2012) HR631

 

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