While the federal minimum wage for non-tipped workers is set at $7.25 an hour, the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers is as low as $2.13 an hour in more than a dozen states. Just last week, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton noted that the labor law is "shameful" and called for an end to the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.
"It is time we end the so-called tipped minimum wage," Clinton said Wednesday at a rally at the Javits Center with New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Buzzfeed
"We are the only industrialized country in the world that requires tipped workers to take their income in tips instead of wages."
Lawmakers say that the federal tipped wage —
granted to workers at establishments such as IHOP, Applebee's and Olive Garden — has been set at $2.13 an hour for decades with its roots in slavery.
And, according to Buzzfeed, the issue is "bubbling up" this election season with help from famous restaurant owners as well as Clinton and Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders.
According to Buzzfeed, this is not the first time Clinton has spoken on the issue. At an event last September, Clinton said: "The idea is, you're supposed to make up the rest [of your wages] in tips. And you know what happens? That money doesn't get to the people who earned it. Wages are actually stolen. So we're going to end that."
Although it may be amended on Friday, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo has previously proposed raising the minimum wage for non-tipped workers to $15 an hour in New York, but Buzzfeed notes that this leaves the federal tipped wage untouched, which is currently set at $7.50 an hour.
Saru Jayaraman, co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center, tells Buzzfeed that Cuomo could amend the proposal to include tipped workers in the raise, as seven states, including California, have previously done.
"By being the first state on the east coast to eliminate the two-tiered wage system and phase it out completely, as Hillary Clinton and the White House and Democrats in Congress are calling for, New York could be a progressive leader," she said.
However, Christin Fernandez, spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association, the largest industry trade group, disagreed whole heartedly and said, "With over 1 million restaurants nationwide, all with varying concepts, restaurateurs should continue to have the freedom to choose what works best for their business and their workforce.
"Whether that's keeping with the current tipped model or trying something new," she added.
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