Queens lawmakers urges Labor Department to raise tipped workers to full minimum wage

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Two Queens representatives are calling on the state to put tipped workers on the same level as other workers at City Hall on Tuesday.

Councilman Francisco Moya was joined by Assemblywoman Ari Espinal, organized labor groups and worker’s rights organizations on Sept. 4 to call for the Department of Labor to eliminate tipped credit and raise all tipped workers to the state’s full minimum wage.

“The livelihoods of restaurant servers, car wash workers, nail salon employees or any tipped worker should not be dependent on tolerating sexual harassment and discrimination but our two-tiered minimum wage system incentivizes silently suffering these indignities,” Moya said. “It’s time for New York to join the seven other states that have eliminated the tipped credit and providing tipped workers with the stability that comes from being guaranteed a living wage.”

According to Moya, tipped workers are twice as likely to live in poverty than other working New Yorkers and less likely to have health insurance than those working in the private sector. The service industry also records more sexual harassment complaints from workers than any other industry in the country.

For these reasons, Moya will introduce a resolution on Sept. 12 that will not only help tipped workers earn a stable living wage, but also allow them to take advantage basic worker’s rights like protections against misconduct including wage theft and harassment.

“New York’s two-tiered wage system fuels poverty, harassment, discrimination and wage theft. Forcing restaurant, car wash and nail salon workers to rely almost entirely on tips to survive is simply wrong. Fortunately, there is a better way,” said Catherine Barnett, director of Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York. “New York must be a leader in the fight for One Fair Wage and join the seven states that have already phased out the tipped subminimum wage – resulting in gains for workers across the board. We applaud Council member Moya and his colleagues on the New York City Council for their leadership on this issue.”

“No worker should have their livelihood threatened because they didn’t smile enough or prostrate themselves before a customer,” said Deborah Axt, co-director of Make The Road NY. “We’ve heard enough horror stories about the conditions tipped employees are forced to work under to know that this two-tiered system must end. We thank Council member Moya for his long-standing work on this issue and for standing up today to call on the Department of Labor to bring all tipped workers up to the full minimum wage.”