Restaurants are already bracing for a wave of wage-related ballot measures in November

Working Lunch: The trend promises to cost employers plenty of money and sweat if they hope to prevail.

Organized labor is increasingly turning to ballot initiatives in its quest to kill the tip credit, signaling a fierce and costly battle ahead for the full-service restaurants of several states, according to this week’s Working Lunch political-affairs podcast.

The installment notes that proponents of eliminating the employer concession are currently gathering thousands of signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot in Ohio and several other states.

Success on that front would be bad news for the restaurant business, since ballot measures are notoriously difficult and costly to defeat. Voters are essentially asked if they’d like to see their fellow residents make more money, without any mention of possible downsides like jobs being cut and servers making less money.

Conveying those negatives to residents is an arduous and costly endeavor, as Working Lunch co-host Joe Kefauver notes in his discussion with guests John Barker and Todd Bowen, CEO and head of government affairs, respectively, of the Ohio Restaurant & Hospitality Alliance. According to Kefauver, educating legislators about the unforeseen impact of a legislative bill is tough enough. Explaining the implications of a ballot initiative to the general population of a state increases the difficulty geometrically.

In addition to Ohio, measures related to the tip credit are expected to be on the ballots of Massachusetts, Arizona and Rhode Island in November.

For a full picture of where the tip credit is likely to be challenged, and what operators are doing to preserve the employer concession, hit Play.

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