Protests Over New York's Tipped Wage Plan

Cuomo has plan to eliminate tip credit

Mike Baggerman
May 08, 2018 - 10:18 am

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Minimum wage workers from around the state convened at Erie Community College's City Campus on Tuesday to protest against, and for, Governor Cuomo's plan to eliminate the tip credit.

On December 31, the state minimum wage increased to $10.40 an hour. While people who work minimum wage jobs at some companies make the full wage as a base salary, tipped food service employees are given, instead a $7.50 minimum wage. A $2.90 tip credit from their employer is required by law to make up the difference.

Tuesday was the latest public hearing throughout New York State. Previous hearings were held in Long Island, Watertown and Syracuse.

Individuals in support of the tip credit argue that it's vital to keep jobs. An increased wage would mean less employees that the company can afford.

"We don't want this," Maggie Raczynski, a bartender at a restaurant in Clifton Park, said. "We don't want the tip credit eliminated. We don't want higher wages. It's going to be detrimental to our industry. I think it's really important for servers to get involved in this."

Raczynski added that increasing the minimum wage for employees would also result in a higher cost of food and a decrease in service.

"What would then promote you to tip me?" she asked. "If I literally can't take care of everyone the way I take care of you now why would you tip me the same way?"

However, those against the tip credit said they aren't able to make an affordable living. An increase to the minimum wage would allow for a better quality of life.

Nicole Hallett is a professor at the University at Buffalo and recently released a local study which she said shed light on the restaurant industry in Buffalo.

"24 percent of the workers in my study reported that employers were stealing some of their tips at their current job," Hallett explained. "20 percent actually reported making under the tipped minimum wage. We have an industry where wage theft is rife. I don't believe that they should be getting a special privilege that other employers don't have. They should be required to pay the full minimum wage just like all other employers do across the city."

She called the argument that businesses would have to close as a result of the wage increase a "scare tactic".

"When you look in other states that abolish the tip credit it just isn't born out of the evidence," Hallett added.  "We have a state like California where there is no tip credit. The resturant industry is booming."

More hearings will be held in Albany next week and in New York City next month.



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