Kevin Drum isn’t too happy with California restaurant owners who are trying to get out of paying the $6.75 minimum wage to waiters, on the grounds that they make tips.
They just want to increase earnings so they can pay their long suffering executives higher salaries.
It never ceases to amaze me that businessmen are continually so outraged over the possibility that any decent paying non-executive jobs are left in our country. But they are. If you’re just an ordinary schlub working in an ordinary job, you don’t deserve a decent wage, you don’t deserve decent healthcare, and you don’t deserve any job security. And don’t you forget it.
So the next time some idiot in a suit starts prattling on about liberals and class warfare, take a minute to remind him who started it. And don’t bother being polite about it.
His commenters mostly take him up on the closing sentence.
Kelly Sedinger makes a pretty compelling case that servers in even relatively low price restaurants make quite a good living.
Now, I’m in New York and not California, so it may well be that he’s right, as far as California goes. I was shocked to see that California mandates an hourly minimum of $6.75 for tipped employees, because here in New York that figure is $2.90 an hour. That’s right, servers in New York get paid less per hour than the regular minimum wage, and they are expected to make up the difference in their tips. They are required to claim the amount of tips they make at the end of each shift, and in the event that this amount is not enough to bring their total hourly rate for the shift up to minimum ($5.25, last time I needed to know this), the restaurant is required to make up the difference.
Servers at the restaurants where I managed would occasionally try to either underclaim their tips so as to force us to pay them the difference, or at least they would complain that they weren’t making the hourly difference in the middle of the shift. Our response was this: To equal the hourly minimum in an standard, eight-hour shift, a server must be able to make all of $19 in tips, and a server who can’t make $19 in tips, in eight hours of waiting tables, is probably a server who doesn’t belong waiting tables in the first place, unless something has happened in that shift to utterly kill business for that day. How much work does this entail, then? Well, if that server waits on just one table each hour (a stretch of an assumption), and that table spends just $20 (a fairly median amount in the restaurants I worked) and tips the straight 15%, that server will make $24 in tips, which is more than the amount needed to make minimum.
Indeed, I think all the states where I’ve lived had an exception in the minimum wage laws for occupations where tips were standard.