This won’t work out well.
Wait staff may be forced to share their tips with cooks and dishwashers under a new Labor Department proposal. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant as a wait person, cook or dishwasher will understand just how unfair this proposal is to the hard-working men and women who serve the American populace. The fact is that this is a money grab backed by the food industry in the guise of helping out the “back of the house” personnel who often work for minimum wage.
The issue isn’t that wait people make so much more money than those who work behind the scenes. In reality, they often do. But this isn’t about “parity”. Many wait people on slow days across the industry go home with far less money than the average dishwasher, who are at least paid the minimum wage, Wikipedia
states, “The American federal government requires a wage of at least $2.13
per hour be paid to employees that receive at least $30
per month in tips.”
Sure, high end wait staff make tremendous tips on a good day. Not so much for a mom and pop operations in downtown Reno or or Carson City. Prestigious eateries and greasy spoons would be lumped into one large basket with the latter suffering far more than the former.
Allowing any owner of any food establishment to get their hands on tips would be a disaster of biblical proportions. Even if every owner was above board, honest and looking out for their employees, this would still be a bad idea. The crux of the problem is that the employers would be justified in lowering the wages of the behind the scene workers (like is already done to the wait staff) and supplement their pay with “shared tips” from the front of the house. It’s easy to see why this would appeal to the owners. It would lower their overhead by reducing the amount of out of pocket salaries they would be required to pay.
It is hard to understand how the Trump administration can see this as a good idea. Wait people are not stupid. They will either quit or look for other employment where salaries are more stable and can be relied upon. The issue is that wait people are generally good people who work hard for their money. There is no way that splitting tips with the back of the house will help out minimum wage employees. Far from it, more likely, it will only create more wage inequity in an already hardscrapple industry where nearly everyone lives from paycheck to paycheck.
The one redeeming factor here is that wait people, despite their predicament of being at the mercy of their owners and now the government, can and will vote. Alienating the vast pool of American wait people is the equivalent of the government and owners shooting themselves in the proverbial foot. Only in the era of Trumpism could this be seen as a good move.
A word to all of the owners out there: Lock and load . . .