New York Times: Battle Over Wage Rules for Tipped Workers Is Heating Up

By Talmon Joseph Smith
New York Times, Oct. 14, 2022

With Americans resuming prepandemic habits of going out, eating out and traveling, leisure and hospitality businesses have scrambled to hire, sometimes offering pay increases that outpace inflation. But for many whose pay is linked to tips, like restaurant servers and bartenders, base wages remain low, and collecting what is owed under the law can be a struggle. ...

Some employers who could use the two-tier wage system are taking a different approach.

Talia Cella, 33, is a training manager at Illegal Pete’s, a burrito spot founded in Boulder, Colo., with locations throughout Arizona and Colorado. Those states have a subminimum wage under $10 an hour for tipped workers, and a regular minimum under $13. Illegal Pete’s offers starting pay of $15 plus tips as well as health care coverage.

Before rising to her current position, Ms. Cella was hired as a server and trained as a bartender in 2016. She was previously making base pay of $5 an hour elsewhere as a waitress and hostess, unable to afford a car and biking to the bus stop in snow to make winter shifts. ...

“Having work be a stable part of your life — where it’s like you go there, you’re getting paid a living wage, you have health insurance, you know this place cares about you — then you’re more likely to show up to work and give your best,” Ms. Cella said. “If you want people to give you more of themselves, more of their time, more of their effort, then you have to be willing to invest more of your company into the individual people as well.”

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Copyright 2022 New York Times Company

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