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The tip credit could have a powerful enemy in Chicago's new mayor

Working Lunch: Incoming chief Brandon Johnson has plans to push several measures that would have a big impact on restaurants.

On the eve of a new mayor taking office in Chicago, the political hands behind the Working Lunch podcast took a hard look at what the change might mean for the restaurant industry. And “it ain’t looking good,” remarked co-host Franklin Coley.

As he and broadcast partner Joe Kefauver noted during this week’s broadcast, incoming Windy City mayor Brandon Johnson has indicated he’ll push his administration to adopt three measures with crucial implications for the hospitality business: A sunset of the tip credit; a “head tax,” or per-employee fee that every employer would have to pay the city; and an increase in the taxes that are tagged onto hotel-room charges.

The dissolution of the tip credit is particularly worrisome, agreed the pair, who also run the Align Public Strategies political affairs consultancy in Orlando. Few other trades would be affected by killing the concession to employers of tipped employees, so the local hospitality business would have to beat back any initiative on its own.

“Restaurants and hotels would find themselves on an island, and that’s not the place to be,” remarked Coley.

With a proposed head tax, every employer would have a reason to speak out, the pair noted. They also observed that a head tax initiative was shot down in Seattle, a notoriously progressive and pro-labor jurisdiction.

How much of a chance do Johnson’s pet measures have? Find out by downloading the episode from wherever you get your podcasts.

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