Many prominent figures in the industry, including Danny Meyer, are fighting for the elimination of the tipped minimum wage in New York. Here's why that matters.
Over the past three years, the national conversation surrounding restaurant tipping—and whether or not we should eliminate the practice all together—has shaken the hospitality industry. Restaurateur Danny Meyer, for one, has been outspoken against tipping, phasing it out from all of his restaurants in favor of higher wages. On Tuesday, he joined forces with other restaurateurs and service workers (including Dirt Candy's Amanda Cohen) to advocate for the end of what's known as the "tipped minimum wage," penning a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In New York, the minimum wage for tipped workers is $8.75, while for non-tipped workers, the minimum wage is $15. In the letter to Cuomo, Meyer and the members of RAISE (Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment) urged Cuomo and the Department of Labor to raise the tipped minimum wage ahead of Wednesday's hearing, making the minimum wage $15 for all workers, regardless of whether or not they receive tips.
"We believe that paying workers one fair wage – by raising the subminimum wage currently inplace for tipped workers to the regular minimum wage – is good for workers and good for business," the letter reads. "Workers can expect better wages and equal or better tips, and we can expect a more professionalized, more sustainable, and less sexually harassed workforce."
As pointed out by Eater, this viewpoint is not unanimous in the industry. A new op-ed in The New York Daily News written by the NYC Hospitality Alliance maintains that the tipped minimum wage is good for business. "The tip credit allows restaurants to pay tipped workers, like servers and delivery workers, a lower base minimum wage if their tips equal the full amount," it reads. "The great thing about this system is that it helps keep labor costs down for restaurants that operate on small profit margins, while allowing workers to earn a lot more than just the minimum wage in tips."
On Wednesday, Cuomo and the Department of Labor will make a decision.
For more on the restaurant tipping debate, check out this guide to where the conversation stands today.