Need Restaurant Workers to Help End Sub-Minimum Wages

Are you a restaurant worker, tipped or otherwise–or do you know of a restaurant worker in your work through your Agency–who would be interested in changing the wages that ‘tipped’ workers receive? Governor Cuomo has called for a Wage Board to study the state’s sub-minimum wage for tipped workers – and with the stroke of a pen, the Cuomo administration can end this unfair and outdated policy by issuing a wage order requiring employers to directly pay tipped workers the full minimum wage, with tips in addition.

The Tompkins County Workers’ Center is looking for restaurant workers who believe that sub-minimum wages should be considered a thing of the past to testify at the NYS Wage Board Hearing that will meet to receive Public Comment from workers and advocates on Friday, October 3rd, from 12-3 p.m. in Syracuse. In addition, we are looking for advocates who know how ridiculous and unfair this sub-minimum wage is, who would be willing to briefly testify! If you are a restaurant worker or advocate and can attend, please let us know ASAP by either replying to this email, or calling our office at 607-269-0409.

Did you know that restaurant workers are allowed to be paid a sub-minimum wage by restaurants in New York (in addition to 43 other states nationwide)?
Right now, in the State of New York, the tipped minimum wage for servers is $5/hour ($5.65 for delivery drivers). (The Federal Minimum Wage for tipped workers is even lower, at $2.13/hour!) Have you ever wondered why the restaurant industry has been given this special dispensation by our governments? (The NYS minimum wage for most workers is presently $8.00/hour; will go up to $8.75 on 12/31/14; and $9.00/hour on 12/31/15. Find complete summary here; also for restaurant workers).

Although employers are legally required to “top off” a tipped worker’s pay when it doesn’t meet the regular minimum wage, enforcement is so lax and disorganized that what’s being called “wage theft” — employers violating minimum wage, overtime, and other wage and hour laws —has reached epidemic levels.

In addition, you can submit an online comment to the Wage Board, demanding that they raise the sub-minimum wage to what the NYS minimum wage is, by clicking here Also, please sign our TCWC petition at that demands that all workers receive the Minimum Wage, not sub-minimum wages!

Thanks to the NYS Labor-Religion Coalition for these important talking points:

#1FairWage – Talking Points and Background:
  1. Through the wage board process, Governor Cuomo can deliver fair pay for working women and families across the state by issuing a “wage order” ending New York’s sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. This wage order would simply require employers to directly pay tipped workers the full minimum wage, as they are already required to do for non-tipped workers.
  1. With the highest inequality in the nation, New York’s 229,000 tipped workers simply cannot afford to be paid a meager sub-minimum wage – just $5.00 per hour for food service workers. Ending the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers will boost New York’s economy by putting more money in the pockets of low-paid workers who will spend it on basic necessities at local businesses.


Why NY’s Workers Deserve #1FairWage :
Tips are meant to be a gratuity for good service, not something that workers rely on to make ends meet – that’s what wages are for. But because employers in New York are permitted to pay tipped workers only a meager sub-minimum wage – just $5.00 per hour for food service workers – tipped workers are forced to rely in large part on tips to afford the basics.
  1. WORKING WOMEN NEED #1FairWage –
Women are hurt most by New York’s sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. 70 percent of all tipped workers are women – allowing employers to pay tipped workers a meager sub-minimum wage only further fuels the pay gap between men and women.
  1. 7 STATES PAY #1FairWage, SO CAN NY –
Restaurants can afford to directly pay the full minimum wage to all of their workers, just like all other industries do. Seven states already require employers to pay tipped workers the full minimum wage – and in these states, tipped workers benefit from lower poverty rates and higher wages, and restaurants have adjusted without reducing employment.