NY to consider higher wage of $7 an hour for tipped workers
Jan. 08, 2015
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Servers, busboys and hotel housekeepers in New York could soon get a raise, though not as big as labor advocates want.
State law allows servers and other tipped workers to make less than the state's minimum wage of $8.75 an hour as long as their tips make up the difference. For servers, the base wage is $5. For other tipped workers, it is $5.65.
On Thursday, the State Wage Board considered the so-called tipping wage in its plans to recommend a figure to the state labor commissioner, who will make the final decision.
The three-member board discussed, but did not approve, a recommendation to raise the wage to the state's minimum. Instead, the board decided to consider at the next meeting a recommendation to raise the tipping wage to $7 an hour.
Labor advocates want the board to eliminate the tipping wage altogether and require tipped workers to be paid the standard minimum wage before tips. But business groups warn that significant increases in the cost of labor will hurt businesses.
Board Chairman Timothy Grippen made the $7 an hour proposal, noting that the tipped wage hasn't been increased in proportion to the minimum wage for some time. He said $7 an hour for both food service workers and other tipped workers would bring their wages back in line with others paid the minimum.
"It makes sense to get it back to where it should have been," he said.
The board split over the question of eliminating the tipped wage altogether or raising it to match the current minimum wage, which is set to rise from $8.75 to $9 at the end of the year.
Board member Peter Ward, president of the New York Hotel Trade Council, said the tipped wage is confusing and unfair. But Board member Heather Bricetti, president of the Business Council of New York State, argued it would hurt business owners and jeopardize the jobs of workers to significantly increase the wage.
"The people who will lose the jobs won't be the employers," she said. "It will be the wait staff."
Grippen declined to weigh in, saying the decision of whether to eliminate the tipped wage should be made by lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo not an unelected board.
Labor advocates, who say there's no reason to pay tipped workers less than others, were displeased with the proposed increase to $7. "We would like to see it higher, significantly higher," said Michael Kink, executive director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition.
The board is expected to submit its recommendation within the next month.