Cilley gets facts wrong on tipped wage

State Representative Jackie Cilley makes a number of factual errors in a recent opinion-editorial on the tipped minimum wage. (“It’s time to end slave wages in NH,” Jan. 8.)

Cilley claims that restaurants are “only legally obligated” to pay servers an hourly wage of $3.27. This is not true; as any employee can verify on the state’s minimum wage notice, restaurants must by law “guarantee the applicable minimum wage” of $7.25, just like any other business. The difference? Most tipped restaurant workers earn more than the state minimum in tips alone, and those tips are credited towards the minimum wage obligation.

Cilley also makes the offensive claim that the popular American practice of tipping developed “out of slavery and the ability to extract free labor from emancipated slaves.” She offers no citation for this claim, and with good reason — it’s not true, as historian Kerry Segrave explained in his 1998 book on the same subject.

New Hampshire should take a lesson from its neighbor, Maine. Last year, an attempt to eliminate the tipped minimum wage was rolled back by a bipartisan group of legislators, after thousands of servers protested that such a move would put their jobs and tip income at risk.