Tip based laborers battling a potential drop in minimum wage

Photo by Andres Bedoya

Deondra Clark/Contributing Writer

In the state of Florida, restaurant waiters/waitresses, bartenders, and other workers who make their living off of tips, are outraged about a bill that is being pushed by the Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Photo by Andres Bedoya

The proposed bill SPB 7210 will allow restaurants to slash Florida’s minimum wage for servers from $4.65 to $2.13 an hour, provided that the restaurants guarantee that their workers would make at last $9.98 an hour after tips.

The bill has conflicted views between the restaurant owners who are supporters of the bill and the servers who are against it. Supporters of the bill argue that the bill is needed to help the state’s restaurant industry. Opponents say that it is ‘ridiculous’ that they would even try to cut wages with the way the economy is now.

Students and Faculty in the Chaplin school of Hospitality and Tourism opined on the bill, with some feeling that it will have a long term negative effect for the industry. They also feel that the cost of living is rising and wages seem to be diminishing.

“If they make a good amount of tips it doesn’t matter what they are getting from the employer, the tips balances their pay and guarantees the workers a check,” said Rakesh Kamal, a Senior Teaching Lab Specialist and Food Labs Manager.

That balance is not always certain, however.

“It could be hot and cold in terms of wages,” said Kennard Rutkowski, an Academic Advisor in CSHTM, who doesn’t feel wages should be cut. “The $4.65 minimum wage, plus the employee meals, plus tips, which is an average of 15-20%, can be very lucrative in a good restaurant. On the other hand, those restaurants that do not have a high volume of customers, the wages could be inadequate.”

Freshman hospitality and tourism management major Rebekah Knight concurs that the money from tips will not always compensate for a drop in wages.

“I don’t believe the minimum wage for tipped employees should be cut,” Knight said. “Servers and waiters who work the evening shifts get the most tips, what will happen to the morning shift servers?”

Supporters of the bill argue that it’s needed to save the state’s restaurant industry. The CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Carol Dover, told the Orlando Sentinel that the current $4.65 minimum for tipped workers is “killing” her members.

“It’s ridiculous. Servers’ pay has always been low because it is anticipated that they make 20% from gratuity, which is not the case. Very rarely do restaurants mandate that servers receive 20% of tips,” said Sharee Brice, Hospitality and Tourism Management major. “When they do, they don’t take into account that servers have to pay out of their tips the bus boys and other people that get tipped out from servers.”

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