NM’s HB31 Amended to Protect Tips; Understandable but Flawed

House Bill 31, the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Increase,” has been amended to protect earned tips of restaurant servers.

The amendment reads:

“From the effective date of this 2019 act until July 1, 2022, an employer may pay a lower cash minimum wage rate pursuant to Subsection D of this section only if the employer can establish that for each week that an employee who customarily and regularly receives more than thirty dollars ($30.00) a month in tips works, the sum of the employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cashwage is not less than the minimum wage rate as provided inSubsection A of this section (NM Representative Miguel Garcia, NM Legislature, 2019).”

I think it’s logical for restaurant servers to react defensively to this bill as it was originally written but I think that reaction is based in an understanding that helps their employers take advantage of them.  As I’ve stated in previous postings here, a tip from a customer in any industry is not mandatory.  Even if a server demands a tip, the customer is not legal bound to provide one.  It is simply an expression of good faith on the part of the consumer toward the business worker.  I don’t believe that any worker’s pay check should be contingent upon the potential good faith of particular consumers.  All of the responsibility of worker pay should be on the business.  A separate “serving wage” for food servers creates a minimum wage double standard between the food service industry and every other industry and it is exploited by businesses whose bottom line is higher profits.

“You have the possibility for more money through tips so I’m going to pay you less than the standard minimum for every other industry.”

^ That is the logic behind this double standard, it essentially outsources responsibility to the workers themselves forcing them to become entertainers as well as food servers, begging for tips because they get paid less than other workers.

Customers in any food establishment should not be expected to supplement the wages of the servers and they definitely should not be guilt-tripped into giving a larger tip out of sympathy.  Businesses should pay food servers the same minimum wage as every other industry as well as let servers keep all the tips they earn from customers.

Counter-Productive Opposition to New Mexico’s HB31

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?