Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Provide Tipped Workers with Proper WAGES


By Rev. Garrett J. Andrew

I worked as waiter to support myself in seminary. It was one of the more difficult jobs I have had. The hours are always a bit strange. You are on your feet for long periods of time. There are the customers, ah yes, there are the customers. Some were demanding and some were laid back. But no matter, I worked as hard as I could to ensure I did the best job that I could. It was the customers after all that ensured that I could actually survive as a waiter. Without the tips I would never have been able to make it.

The worst nights were when I left with almost nothing. We had to tip others out and they had done their work well so they deserved all I could give them. But one night I remember I was going to leave with just $6 after working for 5 hours. Knowing that I was not going to be getting any more money for food the next day, I went into the kitchen and found some food that was going to be thrown away. I asked the manager if I could have it for dinner. Granted permission, I found myself eating other people’s leftovers and thanking God that I had even that.

I did this all while working in California, a state that requires all tipped employees to be paid minimum wage. Here in Georgia the minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 an hour. It’s with first-hand knowledge of the difficulties that tipped workers endure that I implore us all to support the federal Working for Adequate Gains in Employment Services (WAGES) Act, expected to be reintroduced soon in the new Congress.

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