New York state will raise its minimum wage for tipped workers by a hefty 50%, to $7.50 an hour.

Young_Chitlin Members Posts: 23,852 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited February 2015 in The Social Lounge
by Hamilton Nolan

Yesterday, it was announced that New York state will raise its minimum wage for tipped workers by a hefty 50%, to $7.50 an hour. This is one small step toward ending the tyranny of tipping.

I can tell you as an experienced internet writer that there are few topics that people love to argue about more than tipping. "Tipping Should Be Banned!" (or its opposite) is a reliable perma-argument that can be successfully rolled out on a regular basis. Many people like the fact that tipping gives them some imagined level of discretion over whether or not to reward good service, but dislike the fact that tipping amounts to a mandatory addition to a bill. Many people who have worked as tipped workers feel differently.

I do not care to argue over our feelings about tipping as etiquette. Tipping as an economic institution—one enshrined in our wage laws—is not a good thing. It is not a good thing for tipped workers. It lets employers off the hook for paying a decent wage to their workers. It allows us to treat minimum wage as something that must be earned by peppy service and prompt refills of water glasses, rather than as something that we as a society regard as a minimal right afforded to all workers.

Every state has a minimum wage. All workers—even the laziest, ? , least skilled employees in that state—earn the minimum wage. Unless they work for tips, in which case employers are allowed to pay them only a token hourly sum, and the workers themselves must try to make up the difference through the sheer good will of customers. All this system does is A) transfer the responsibility for paying employees from employers to their customers, and B) make the prospect of earning a steady wage less certain. Tipped workers in New York have a poverty rate that is "more than double that of the overall work force." A separate minimum wage for tipped workers is nothing more than a gift to employers at the expense of everyone else.

So, raising the minimum tipped wage is a step in the right direction. In New York, it was $5 an hour. Now it's $7.50 an hour. Next, raise it to the minimum wage. Then, let the tipping situation take care of itself. If we can get to the point when people who now work for tips are working for a steady liveable wage, then who gives a ? what side of the "tipping debate" everyone comes down on? Think pieces don't pay the rent.

The minimum wage should be the minimum wage.