I wanted to ask you about wages…Would you be willing to help increase “food service workers”, waiters, waitresses and all other tipped employees minimum wage to the same rate as every other non tipped person? That hourly rate has been overlooked since way back 25 – 35 plus years. It is actually discrimination in my eyes. There are other reasons to do this. TAXES. It’s easier to track hours paid than tips received. Increase the wage and stop taxing tips.
Hi John, thanks for asking.
My answer may come off as wishy-washy at first, but please stay with me. I want you to know where I’m coming from.
In high school and college I worked many restaurant jobs. I was a dishwasher, busboy, fry cook, delivery driver, and waiter at different times over those years. So I have some understanding of what it’s like, and have followed the reporting about tipping over the years.
My top level principle is that any adult who works a full-time job should be paid enough to lead a solid middle class existence.
It’s complicated with wait staff, though, and I know that efforts in the U.S. to replace the tipping system with a fair wage have mostly failed. I think the biggest impediment to getting rid of the tipping system is the fact that wait staff are tipped as a percentage of the check, so they make radically different amounts of money depending on the price of food and drink in the restaurant where they work.
Someone working in a failing breakfast diner where the average check per person might be $8 is not making a living wage, while someone working in a busy high-end steakhouse where the typical check per person is $100 is making out like a banker. Implementing a fair wage across the board would really hurt the high earners, and as you would expect, they are adamantly opposed. On the other hand, increasing the cost of meals in the small restaurants drives away customers, hurting small businesses and costing jobs.
As with most issues, there is no solution that is best for everybody, so we need to examine our principles and use them as the foundation on which to build the best solutions for the most people.
In this case, my principle is that everyone who works should get paid a decent wage, so wait staff should get no worse than minimum wage. I’m sorry about how that would affect struggling restaurants, but paying workers is part of the cost of doing business. I think people will eventually get used to it and come around, but I know it’s going to hurt at first.
As for higher paid wait staff at more expensive restaurants, they are typically more experienced, and better at their jobs, and they should be paid accordingly, just like in any other industry. There definitely shouldn’t be any law that keeps that from happening.
Another of my core beliefs is that on many issues there are real world examples of solutions that work, either in our past, or from how they do things in other countries.
In this instance, that’s how it is in France and other places and we know it works. Wait staff are paid decent base wages, and the tip is included in the check so more experienced waiters at more expensive restaurants make more money.
So minimum wage, plus tips. That should work best for the most people, and it is consistent with our core principles.