Senators discuss tipped minimum wage

State Sen. Mike Stack last week de­scribed the money earned by some res­taur­ant serv­ers and oth­ers in Pennsylvania as “prac­tic­ally slave wages.”

Stack, who is run­ning for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor, was joined by fel­low Demo­crat­ic Sen. Daylin Leach, who is run­ning for Con­gress, at a March 12 news con­fer­ence in the park­ing lot of the Ap­ple­bee’s at 9142 Roosevelt Blvd. The law­makers were joined by speak­ers from Path­Ways PA and Wo­men’s Way and act­iv­ists who car­ried signs with mes­sages such as, “Work­ers can’t sur­vive on $7.25.”

That’s the hourly min­im­um wage in the state and na­tion­ally, but not for work­ers who make tips.

“Tipped em­ploy­ees should make a min­im­um wage,” Stack said. 

In Pennsylvania, tipped em­ploy­ees make as little as $2.83 an hour. One speak­er said he makes the tipped min­im­um push­ing trav­el­ers in wheel­chairs at Phil­adelphia In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port. Stack called that fig­ure “in­de­cent” and “ob­scene.”

“Tipped em­ploy­ees should make a min­im­um wage,” he said.

Stack and Leach will in­tro­duce le­gis­la­tion to end the sub-min­im­um wage for em­ploy­ees who re­ceive tips and raise the over­all min­im­um wage to $12 an hour. The figured would be tied to in­fla­tion and con­tin­ue to rise yearly.

Stack and Leach re­jec­ted last month’s re­port by the non­par­tis­an Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice, which said rais­ing the fed­er­al min­im­um wage to $10.10 an hour would cost 500,000 jobs.

Some states have high­er min­im­um wages than the fed­er­al fig­ure. Wash­ing­ton, for in­stance, has a wage of $9.32 an hour.

Stack said prices at res­taur­ants are the same in states with dif­fer­ent min­im­um wages. Leach ad­ded that San Fran­cisco, with a whop­ping min­im­um wage of $10.74 an hour, has a thriv­ing res­taur­ant in­dustry.

The sen­at­or said tipped em­ploy­ees are eli­gible for food stamps.

“This is ex­ploit­a­tion of hu­man be­ings,” Leach said. “They are en­titled to their wages.” ••

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