Things like this make me dizzy…

I’m not a very political person. I can get behind a cause. Even have a passion for it if it’s something I believe in. But, all in all, I’m afraid I’m rather flawed when it comes to the political arena of life…. I vote, but I’m sooo not crazy about politics. Does that make me lazy … or just plain blonde? *sighs* It’s just all too frustrating sometimes… (and they use big words! *innocent grins*)

**Tip money earned by waitresses in Las Vegas, manicurists in Hollywood and bartenders in Seattle is on the table in the nation’s capital as lawmakers scrap over an election-year minimum wage bill. Nevada, California and Washington are among seven states where workers get to keep their tips on top of getting paid their state’s full minimum wage. In other states, tip-earning workers get paid less and make up the difference with tips.

A provision in GOP-written minimum wage legislation passed by the House and under consideration this week by the Senate could change the law in those seven states – the others are Montana, Alaska, Minnesota and Oregon. It would deal a pay cut of $3 or more an hour to thousands of waiters, bellhops and hairdressers in those states, according to Democrats and labor groups.

Everything that has been achieved in seven states to support low-wage workers who earn tips is destroyed by this bill,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “This bill would slash the salaries of thousands of workers.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the provision a “travesty.”

Republicans and the National Restaurant Association, which opposes a minimum wage increase and fought for the tip provision, dispute the Democratic interpretation. They say the legislation is only intended to have an impact when the states in question increase their minimum wage – at which point the increase would come out of a worker’s tips, not an employer’s payroll.

“No provision results in the lowering of wages for any worker. The purpose of the provision is to allow employers with tipped employees to count their employees’ tips as wages for purposes of meeting their minimum wage obligation,” Brendan Flanagan, a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement Tuesday after Democrats began raising concerns.

A memo by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service on Wednesday backed up the Democratic position. Under the bill language, the seven affected states “would seem to be prohibited from enforcing the minimum wage rate provisions of their laws with respect to a tipped employee” said the memo, written by Jon A. Shimabukuro, a legislative attorney at the research service, for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

But in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a Labor Department official said the department would interpret the bill’s language as protecting current wages for tipped employees in the seven states. Victoria Lipnic, assistant secretary of labor for employment standards, offered in the letter to work with lawmakers to clarify the intent of the legislation – something several Republican senators, including Norm Coleman of Minnesota, said Wednesday they intended to do.

The minimum-wage-increase legislation already was controversial because House Republican leaders passed it as part of a bill cutting inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, a top GOP priority opposed by most Democrats. The tipped-workers’ provision looked likely to heighten Democratic opposition and could factor into decision-making by lawmakers who haven’t yet made their position known, including Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington state.

The GOP package, expected to come to a vote Friday, would increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, phased in over the next three years. States with higher state minimum wages – in California it’s now $6.75 an hour; in Washington $7.63 – would keep their higher levels, at least until the federal level exceeds it.

Except for in the seven states at issue, employers of tipped employees now pay only a portion of the minimum wage – starting at $2.13 an hour – as long as the employees draw enough tips to make up the rest. A tipped employee is defined as one who regularly receives more than $30 per month in tips.

Under the GOP-written legislation, according to Democrats, that same system would go into effect in the seven states where employers now pay the full wage. So instead of getting to keep tips on top of their minimum wage in California, Nevada and the other states, tipped workers would be paid a base wage of $2.13 an hour and employers could use their tips to make up the rest.

**Copywrite 2006 Associated Press.

~~~~~~~>>>>> Will someone please tell me how this can even be something ANYONE would consider? Not all employees are tipped equally…. Some waitresses, bartenders, hair dressers would do ok while, I fear, a vast majority could suffer…. and suffer greatly. Then, the state can pick them up… on welfare! Or have I been living in my little cave of isolation for so long that I’m totally so far out of the loop of life awareness, tipping and the food and beverage businesses, that I’m permanently out to lunch???


3 responses to “

  1. I was aware that the U.S, was far behind the rest of the western world on minimum wage standards, and I thought this new proposed legislation was meant bring you inline and improve the life of those at the bottom of the economic ladder. In fact, maintains the status quo.I see now that it is all smoke and mirrors and gives with one hand and takes away with the other for a good-sized segment of minimum wage earners. Using my limited skills at basic math I calculate that those who rely on tips will not benefit from any increase, and in some cases would be taking a step or two backwards.In my travels to the US, I’ve found that dining out is very inexpensive, and the portions are exorbitant to the point of being obscene. I would gladly pay a bit more, and settle for a little less on the plate to see that servers receive a fair wage. I make it a point of putting a portion of my tip directly in the hand of the server so that it does not end up in the communal pot. In most cases, a tip has already been hidden in the bill, so I am not denying other staff their share of the tip. I can honestly say that I have met too many bad servers when dining out anywhere in the US, which makes giving a tip plus a little extra a painless exercise. It also has the benefit of guaranteeing top quality service on my next visit.

  2. Duh!! That last line should have read:I can honestly say that I have NOT met too many bad servers when dining out anywhere in the US, which makes giving a tip plus a little extra a painless exercise. It also has the benefit of guaranteeing top quality service on my next visit.

  3. I don’t eat out that much, but when I do, I notice the service varies. Some good. Some – not so good. Messing with the minimum wage to try and extract more out of a group of workers that really aren’t living high on the hog just seems wrong to me. It’s probably only a majority that are living well from their tips. But what do I know?? *smiles*

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