Servers push to keep tip credit intact

Posted at 5:49 PM, Jan 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-03 17:49:17-05

Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined his 2018 agenda during his annual State of the State Address. 

Among his 30 proposals, he’s considering eliminating what's called the minimum wage tip credit. Currently, workers like restaurant servers earn tips on top of their less than minimum wage hourly rate. The proposal would eliminate tips, and instead require employers to pay workers the minimum wage. 

Chessa Hirsch has been a server at Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant and Banquet Facility for nine years. “I like it because I like going home with cash every day,” she said.

Hirsch has tried other jobs before. But, the 39-year-old from Orchard Park said she always comes back to serving. 

Why? The tips. She works part time but said she makes almost as much as if she were to work 40 hours at a minimum wage job.

State law requires servers make $7.50 an hour. That's less than the $10.40 minimum wage rate here in western New York. The idea is that gratuity makes up the difference. “It's very lucrative for them to be here and they're not stuck to a Monday through Friday shift. Yea, you work the holidays but you're rewarded for it,” said Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant Owner, Dennis DiPaolo.

The governor disagrees. He said tipping doesn't always equal a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. That's why he wants the Department of Labor to consider doing away with the tip credit. “Even if my servers come in and don't have a single table, they're still guaranteed minimum wage,” DiPaolo explained.

DiPaolo said he may be forced to cut hours and employees if the measure goes through. Servers like Chessa Hirsch may be forced to find a higher paying job. “I'd have to put in so many more hours I think to get to what I would make.”

The Department of Labor is expected to schedule hearings for public input.