While nearly all employees at the lower end of the wage scale will benefit from the raising of minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, employees who are paid a portion of their salaries in tips will be left out to dry when the new rate goes into effect. While the minimum wage hike provided for a new minimum after the longest period without a raise, the minimum salary for workers who received tips has stayed at $2.13 an hour for over 18 years now.
This has resulted in damaging situations for waiters and other workers who work for tips, with their wages dropping nearly 36 percent in real value since the law was established. An article on the New York Times City Room blog highlights these perils, which quoted Paul K. Sonn of the National Employment Law Project. Mr. Sonn states “Tipped workers like waitresses and waiters have twice the poverty rate of the workforce as a whole”.
The conditions for workers are even worse when given the fact that many employers do not fairly distribute tips, and sometimes take a percentage of tips for themselves. As well, service workers in New York City face much higher costs of living, and are often confronted with tourists that are unfamiliar with the American style of gratuity. All of these factors add up to a bad deal for some of the hardest working individuals in our work force.