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Fighting for higher subminimum wage

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Posted at 8:16 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 20:16:48-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Kay Kennedy says she’s been working in the service industry since she was 16 years-old.

“Since I was 16, I have been using tips to pay my bills,” she said.

On Monday, she shared that knowledge with New York State Assemblymembers Monica Wallace and Jonathan Rivera, who both rolled up their sleeves at Spot Coffee downtown, to show the importance of raising subminimum wage in New York State.

“When we are ordering food and they’re serving us a nice fancy meal, they go home and a lot of them rely on food stamps to feed their own families and that’s unacceptable,” said Wallace.

Currently, according to the group One Fair Wage, the federal sub minimum wage for a tipped worker is $7.35 per hour. In Buffalo, it’s slightly higher at $8.35 an hour. Tipped workers can keep their tips.

Many say those tips aren’t enough, and they’re not consistent especially in a post-pandemic world.

The group One Fair Wage did a lengthy study which found 83% of New Yorkers surveyed reported their tips have decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic. 59% of New Yorkers surveyed reported tips have decreased by at least 50% since the pandemic.

The Raise the Wage act is currently in the assembly, and hasn’t passed through the democratic majority. Assemblymember Monica Wallace believes especially during the pandemic rebound, this needs to happen this upcoming session.