Raise Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour, Eliminate Tip Credit
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today that as Governor he would eliminate the tip credit that reduces the minimum wage for tip workers, joining seven other states, including California.
"Food and other service workers shouldn't have to rely on tips to make ends meet. Many workers have part of their tips stolen by their employers," said Hawkins.
Hawkins has long criticized Governor Cuomo for refusing for more than a year to appoint a minimum wage board to raise the wages for food tip workers, as was required by last year's legislative deal. The Governor has the power to raise the minimum wage without legislative approval if he feels the minimum wage is inadequate to maintain workers.
"I support a minimum wage of $15 an hour and would raise it administratively as Governor. Workers need to make enough to support their families. Cuomo and state lawmakers have kept the minimum wage as a sub-poverty wage," noted Hawkins.
Hawkins noted that $15 an hour is slightly less than the demand, adjusted for inflation, made by Dr. King 50 years ago at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The marchers wanted the federal minimum wage raised nearly 75 percent, from $1.15 an hour to $2.00 an hour. They also called for “A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers—Negro and white—on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.”
Even though many tipped workers earn a few dollars more than the minimum wage once tips are counted, their incomes are often still low because of erratic hours and substantial fluctuations between shifts and seasons. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the median wage for a tipped worker is $9.87 per hour. The family poverty rate for tipped workers is three times the family poverty rate for the workforce as a whole.
The restaurant industry overall is near the bottom nationally in terms of wages paid. The overwhelming majority of waiters, waitresses, and tipped workers in other industries (like car wash attendants and nail salon workers) earn very low wages. Restaurant servers use food stamps at almost double the rates of the rest of the U.S. workforce, indicating that these higher poverty rates are being subsidized by taxpayer dollars.
Women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers. Twenty-two percent of minimum wage workers are women of color. Nearly three-quarters of tip workers are women.