Letter: Listen to employees on tipping, not activists
Author: Rebekah Paxton
Publication Date: September 2023
Newspaper: New York Daily News
Arlington, Va: In her Sept. 4 op-ed, “On this Labor Day, a tip for New York’s leaders,” Reshma Saujani argues for eliminating New York’s tip credit without acknowledging how doing so would hurt the very employees she claims to advocate for. Saujani says “people hate tipping.” Yet, her source for this claim finds that 83% of restaurant-goers are routine tippers. In fact, the growing use of alternative models like mandatory service charges are turning off diners around the country. States with no tip credit see the lowest average tip percentages in the nation.
Customers aren’t the only ones who like tipping. Employees prefer it as an opportunity to maximize their income. Tips typically put employees well beyond the flat minimum wage. New York servers can earn up to $50 per hour or more with their tips. Upending the current system would reduce those earnings substantially. Eliminating the Empire State’s tip credit would require employers to pay nearly double the base minimum wage for tipped employees, putting thousands out of work. More devastatingly, those who survive layoffs are likely to earn less annually. New York restaurateurs have already tried the flat wage model and employees left in droves, saying they lost out on tips. When former Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed tip credit elimination back in 2018, employees testified in opposition, arguing that their livelihoods came from their tips.
Don’t believe the false narrative Saujani and One Fair Wage are selling. Employees and customers alike prefer the tipping model and are better off because of it.