By Dylan R.N. Crabb
Yesterday, New Mexico’s House Commerce & Economic Development Committee discussed House Bill 31, the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Bill” and a lot of people traveled to the capital to express their opinions in-person to the committee (there were plenty of people for it as well as against it).
A curious citizen can view the recorded committee session here.
The restaurant industry sounds the like the most vocal demographic in opposition to HB31 and much of the criticism against the bill seems to be focused on the fact that the merging of the serving wage with the minimum wage will likely mean less tips for restaurant servers. The loss of high earnings of tips for a successful restaurant server is an understandable fear but I think this fear misses the point of the bill. The purpose of the bill is to create a living wage for all employees.
As of 2016, there are approximately 7.6 million individuals in the nation classed as “working poor” (working but still living below the poverty line), according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why should anyone be living in poverty while they are working full-time or near full-time?
A tip is not a mandated exchange from a customer to a server, it is a voluntary gift supposedly based on the merit of the server’s work and attitude toward the customer. It’s true that an employer in the restaurant industry is required by New Mexico law to make up the difference in a lack of tips to bring a server’s earnings up to the minimum wage level, but then why have two different minimum wages at all? Why not dispense with the server’s wage entirely? I’m confused about the double standard.
Why is it acceptable for a restaurant owner to outsource the burden of waiter/server pay to the consumers?