It's Time To Give Tip-Dependent Employees A Minimum Wage Equal To Other Workers, Reformers Say

An industry spokeman said that waiters, waitresses, and bartenders are often top earners in some restaurants.

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Tip-Dependent Employees Deserve An Equal Minimum Wage, Reformers Say

February 16, 2017

Activists on Beacon Hill want to end the practice of paying restaurant service workers below minimum wage and relying on customer gratuity to make up the difference.

Protesters called Thursday for the elimination of the tipped minimum wage, which allows workers like bartenders, waiters and hotel staff to be paid $3.75 hourly and leaves it to customers to reward good service with voluntary gratuity.

"We're trying to phase out the tipped worker sub-minimum wage altogether," Marisol Santiago, the executive director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center's Massachusetts branch said. The legislation the activists are pushing for would phase out the tipped-earner wage floor over eight years.

"We think we should establish a fair, livable wage for everyone and for tipped workers, they should have something to rely on," Santiago said in front of the State House Thursday. She was accompanied by around 20 protesters chanting for the end of the sub-minimum wage.

Bob Luz from the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, an industry trade group, told WGBH News that not all tipped workers want to see the sub-minimum wage go and rely on the status quo in order to bring in an average of $12 to $30 an hour, above the state's $11 an hour minimum wage.

"Tipped employees in the restaurant and hotel industry are the highest earners within the four walls of the restaurant, sometimes even including the managers," Luz said.

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