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Report Predicts Lower Pay for Women Waiting Tables

What restaurant servers think about tip-pooling could determine how they'll feel about a Labor Department proposal giving employers the right to make workers hand over their tip income. (alternet.org)
What restaurant servers think about tip-pooling could determine how they'll feel about a Labor Department proposal giving employers the right to make workers hand over their tip income. (alternet.org)
January 22, 2018

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — New research says the take-home pay for women who wait tables in Wyoming could go from bad to worse if a proposed Trump administration rule is adopted.

Wyoming's minimum wage for servers is one of the lowest in the West, tied with Utah at $2.13 per hour. The Department of Labor wants to rescind Obama-era rules that prevent employers from making workers hand over their tip income.

According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, the change could cost tipped workers $4.6 billion a year. Study co-author Heidi Shierholz said women would take 80 percent of the hit.

"Tipped workers are going to see a huge hit to their take-home pay, and employers will be enriched,” Sheirholz said. “Because the vast majority of tipped workers are women, because women earn lower wages, they are far more disproportionately harmed by this rule."

The administration has defended the change as a fairness issue, saying it will facilitate tip pooling, where businesses like restaurants share the wait staff's tips with other workers, like dishwashers and cooks. However, nothing in the rule prevents employers from simply pocketing the tips, as long as everyone makes at least minimum wage.

The public comment period on regulations.gov ends February 5.

Shierholz said she thinks the rule change won’t end up helping the non-tipped workers, either.

"They're already paying those workers what they need to get workers in those jobs,” she said. “And so, if they do share any tips with workers at the back of the house, it will very likely be offset with declines in their base pay."

She added the administration didn't conduct an economic analysis of this rule change, which is required by law. That could become the basis of a law to stop the change - if the administration finalizes the rule.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - WY