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Minneapolis servers make a statistical case for keeping tip credit

tip jar

In what could be the test of a potent argument against forgoing or eliminating the tip credit, an employees’ group in Minneapolis is circulating a study that shows servers’ income could be lowered if a $15 wage is mandated for tipped staffers.

The report found that servers in the city currently earn an average of $28.56 an hour from gratuities and the lower wage that employers are allowed to pay tipped employees.

“This survey proves what we as servers already know: Tipped restaurant employees in Minneapolis are making well above $15 an hour on average,” said Sarah Norton, the waitress who leads a server advocacy group called Service Industry Staff for Change.

The study also found that servers currently work an average of 19.1 hours per week. If restaurants were required to pay servers a $15-an-hour wage, with no adjustment for what they collect in tips, the financial impact would force the employers to take action, Norton’s group contends.

“The result will be a reduction in working hours, fewer jobs, or the elimination of tipping altogether,” Norton said.

The research also revealed that cooks working in Minneapolis restaurants earn an average of $13.89 an hour, and other employees who work for straight wages, like fast-food order takers, typically collect $12.64 an hour.

“City leaders should focus on giving a raise to the cooks and support employees while preserving the jobs and pay structure for tipped employees,”said Norton.

The Service Industry Staff for Change is allied with the Minnesota Restaurant Association in opposing an elimination of the tip credit. The study released in recent days was conducted and apparently funded by the MRA.

The research was based on surveys of 3,458 employees, tipped and nontipped, in 72 restaurants throughout the city.

Labor proponents and many civic leaders are pushing for an increase in the minimum wage for all hourly workers, tipped or not, to $15 an hour.
 

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