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07/28/2014 | Improving Job Quality, Raising the Bar for Workers and Families

Why It’s Time for New York to Eliminate the Tipped Sub-Minimum Wage

Women’s leaders, fast-food delivery workers, and low-wage tipped workers are demanding an end to sub-minimum wage for tipped workers in New York State. While New York’s minimum wage is scheduled to rise to $9.00 per hour by Dec 31, 2015, the minimum wage for thousands of tipped food service workers remains stuck at just $5.00 per hour

Workers and their allies rallied outside of a Manhattan Domino’s earlier this month as Governor Cuomo prepared to appoint a Wage Board charged with recommending an increase in the state’s tipped sub-minimum wage. The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) was proud to help coordinate this effort along with our partners at Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, Restaurant Opportunities Center, RaiseUpNY and others.

A  Wage Order eliminating the tipped sub-minimum wage would benefit an estimated 229,000 low-wage tipped workers in New York, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Center (NELP).

"Living off tips is a grind and a hustle for me to feed and support my kids, not knowing what you will bring home. This hurts family, looking at my kids face wants me to work harder to provide for them,” said Autumn Alston, Member of ROC-NY affiliate of ROC-United.

Why It’s Time for New York to Eliminate the Tipped Sub-Minimum Wage and Guarantee Tipped Workers the Full Minimum Wage Paid Directly by their Employers:

  • Fair Pay for Women: Women are hurt most by NY’s low wage tipped minimum wage, as they make up more than 70% of all tipped workers. The low tipped minimum wage contributes to the persistent gender pay gap in New York, where women are paid just 83 cents for every dollar that men are paid.
  • High Poverty, Low Wages: Nationally, tipped workers are more than twice as likely to experience poverty, and restaurant servers are almost three times as likely to experience poverty, as all other workers – yet companies like Domino’s that employ tipped workers earn millions in profits every year.
  • Tips Are Not Wages: Without a significant base wage paid directly by their employers, tipped workers across New York must rely on tips alone for the overwhelming share of their earnings, leaving them vulnerable to wide fluctuations in pay as tips vary substantially with each shift and each season.