Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Welcome to $2.13 an hour, Nevada bartenders

And California bartenders. And Washington bartenders. According to this article from the AP, there are seven states in which tipped employees earn the state's minimum wage on top of their tips.

The GOP would like to end that, and make you seven more like the rest of us forty-three.

Tips Caught Up In Minimum-Wage Debate - AP

I find this development incredibly distressing. The Pacific-West states, and Minnesota, have been very progressive in terms of living wage, and it was my fervent hope that the rest of us might catch up one day.

It's important to realize that most servers and bartenders in Ohio, for example, are paid $2.13 an hour by their employer, and are essentially making the whole of their wages through tips. I think most people know that, but are often surprised at how little we're paid in wages. Often, we're paid with a monthly check, which amounts to pennies, since the $2.13 wage is used to cover taxes. Our take-home pay is based on the generosity of our customers. There are often nights which are so slow that when the combined hourly wage is added to the earned tips, we walk home with less than the minimum wage. There's no safety net for the worker to ensure that doesn't happen.

I'm not saying that bars and restaurants should pay $10 an hour plus tips. Who wouldn't want to be a waiter, if that were the case? But wages have been stalled at $2.13 an hour for almost a decade, and it's simply unreasonable. No wonder Reds attendance is down, as the Cincinnati Enquirer pondered yesterday. People are broke, dumbasses. Open your eyes.

It's even more disgusting when you realize that the latest minimum-wage package has been tied to the estate tax cut. So, while my wages remain stagnant, and while the chairman of Exxon's grandkids get an enormous tax break that's unnecessary and undeserved, the gal who pours your Budweiser in Portland and the guy who parks your car in Vegas might be getting a pay cut they probably can't begin to afford.

Edit: Actually, the bill proposes that tipped employees in those states will make at least $3.00 an hour, so maybe I should amend the title of this post. Nothing like a shot of cold comfort during an August heat wave.

When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse
When the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

- Coldplay, "Fix You"

Technorati Tags: , ,