Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Return of Tip Credit

It's understandable that the introduction of HF 1755 ("the Restaurant Recovery and Jobs Creation Act") was lost in the shuffle of the end of the legislative session. After all, it was introduced on the same day the House voted to place the Bradlee Dean Marriage Discrimination Amendment on the 2012 ballot. But HF 1755 contains an item near and dear to the hearts of servers and penny-dumpers everywhere - a tip credit.

The tip credit issue nearly single-handedly sank Tom Emmer's campaign for Governor in 2010. At a minimum, Emmer's outlandish claims of $100,000 servers, the amateurish mishandling of the issue by his campaign, and the bizarre town hall meeting that ended in a shower of copper did serious damage to his hopes.

The tip credit provision of HF 1755 would allow restaurants to pay servers $6.55/hour as long as the server's wage plus tips totaled $12/hour. If servers earned less than $12/hour combined, restaurants would pay the current minimum wage of $7.25/hour. For many servers, this would result in a .70/hour pay cut.

While this is less than the several dollar/hour pay cut that Emmer initially proposed and then tried to walk back, it would still cut the wages of one of the lowest paid professions in Minnesota. It's yet another example of the tone-deaf Republican war on working people and their wages. I'm sure the chief author, Rep. Jenifer Loon (R - Eden Prairie) must be very proud to carry it, along with co-author Kurt Zellers.

The Minnesota Restaurant Association lists the bill among their 2011 Legislative Priorities. In yet another example of the boundless capacity for Orwellian double-speak the MRA issue brief cleverly relabels the tip credit a "Server Super Wage."

If only we could really get a "Super Wage" for workers. At this point, I think most would settle for any action by the Minnesota Legislature that doesn't explicitly try to cut worker's wages and benefits.

Bills introduced during the first year of the biennial legislative session don't die when the legislature adjourns. In 2012, the tip credit may ride again.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

(Image from Columbus Go Home)

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