The average restaurant worker makes less than $20,000 per year. Considering the fact that the federal poverty threshold for a family of three is $20,420, these workers are barely able to make ends meet with their paychecks. For years, the National Restaurant Association, the lobby arm of restaurant owners, has poured millions of dollars into Washington politics in order to keep restaurant worker wages low. Now, the Trump Department of Labor wants to give restaurant owners a 6.1 billion dollar tip each year at the expense of their workers.
The Trump Department of Labor wants to change the Fair Labor Standards Act Regulations. In doing so, the Trump administration will be giving lobbyists a gift that they have long wanted-the ability to capture tips. The manner in which this new regulation is written will allow restaurant owners to pocket the tips which you believed you were leaving for your waiter. While a few restaurant owners might capture tips and distribute them to dishwashers and other non-tipped staff, most won’t. The new law is written to allow restaurant owners to do whatever they wish with the tips, including keeping all tips for themselves. These tips were earned by workers who are paid minimum wage-a measly $7.25 per hour.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 12% of restaurants are illegally keeping tips. The enactment of the new “Fair” Labor Standards Regulations will make tip capturing by owners legal. It will cause extreme financial hardship for the 1.3 million tipped workers who earn the standard minimum wage. (Any claims that restaurant workers are well-paid is a myth.) Those tips don’t buy luxury items for workers. They help them make ends meet. It is tragic that those who serve food to others might forfeit their tips to owners and be unable to put food on their own tables.
Government proposals are required to undergo a public comment period. Rather than allowing the usual 60 day comment period for this proposal, the Trump administration has limited the comment period to 30 days. All public comments on the “Fair” Labor Standards Act Regulations must be submitted by January 4, 2018. The comment period has been shortened and scheduled during the holiday season for a reason. People are busy and it’s easier to slide an unpopular proposal through. During this busy holiday season, please take some time to make your voices heard on this issue.
Here is the federal link for public comment on the “Fair” Labor Standards Regulations:https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/12/05/2017-25802/tip-regulations-under-the-fair-labor-standards-act-flsa