Restaurant Guy David Meinert Urges Staff to Lobby for Tip Deduction from $15 Wage or "Tips Will Probably Go Away" and Overall Wages Will Drop

Comments

1
That just seems dumb to me. Why wouldn't they just boost up the prices of the food a skosh -- doing the "service charge" thing just seems like a petty way to punish the employees. Otherwise, people'd continue to tip, and... well, honestly, I think they might in the event of the service charge anyway.
2
What a crock of bs by Meinert... trying to convince his staff through fear-mongering that their livelihoods are at stake. It's the lowest to use one's position of power to ask folks to work against their own interests. Does any rational person think that raising the minimum wage to $15 will stop tipping? Does any rational person think by raising the minimum to $15 will decrease the take-home pay of restaurant workers? Shame on you Meinert!
3
Isn't tipping a form of free speech by customers?
4
Boycott places "catering to Seattle's hipster set." Boycott restaurants for that matter. Get Slog to repost all of Goldie's tips on growing one's own vegetables. Make friends with the earth. Leave this red tape for the hipster set. Be a hippie instead.
5
As Dominic says, there is nothing in any proposed $15 policy that contains any language that would outlaw, discourage, or other inhibit tipping.

We already have no tip credit in this state, and we already have a higher than average minimum wage. And yet tipping still occurs. I have yet to see any credible argument that an increase to $15 would somehow change that.

The bottom line is that any suggestion that tips will somehow go away unless restaurant owners are given a tip credit is pure fear mongering.
6
Note that Meinert doesn't want a tip credit, he wants total compensation. Tip credit might get someplace, but total compensation? Please. That's just a way of keeping the real minimum wage down around $12, because he already has to pay for health insurance. Also, isn't he going to get to have the phase in because he's a small business?
7
I'd be willing to listen to Meinert if he were proposing some tip credit plan that did not include baristas, nail techs, bussers and other tipped employees who don't end up making $30+ an hour with tips. Those are the employees who will truly suffer under the tip credit/penalty plan.
8
As we get closer and closer to a final resolution on this, it wouldn't surprise me if you started hearing restaurants talking about flat out forbidding tipping in their establishments to try to scare waitstaff.
9
Shame on people like Meinhert who use misinformation as a means of keeping more money for themselves at the expense of his workers - the people who really need it.

This type of behavior discourages me from wanting to give him and his establishments my hard earned money.
10
Rich people want to get richer subsidized by "tip credits" used to pad their underpaying Anericans

Just make it a flat $16 an hour with zero exemptions
11
I don't even get it. Servers/bartenders that are working at decent places are already making over $15 an hour. So why does their base pay need to be raised to that amount? Someone explain to me. Seems like everyone is getting hung up on this for some reason.
12
@3,

No. A business has the right to curtail your "free speech" within its walls.
13
Under current policy, all the tips go to front of house staff. Cooks and dishwashers get none of it. Simply raising the minimum wage does nothing to address this horrible disparity.

My remedy is to go European, institute a service charge of 18% or so, and management uses the additional income to raise everyone's hourly wage to $15 or more. Goal being to distribute "tip" income fairly to all labor that contributes to the meal; don't reserve it just for the final hands at the table.

OK, maybe some price increases might still be necessary, but a sign in the window explaining the new system would be welcomed by customers, at least this one.
14
@11 - If you're a server at the Dahlia Lounge or the Met, you're probably right, but not everyone works in those restaurants. The problem is that when tip credits or "total compensation" programs have been implemented across the country it's created a mushy area where wage theft occurs, and enforcement officials are often too understaffed to root out problem employers. It essentially makes it too easy for slimy managers and owners to screw over their staff.

Issues of mandatory "tipping out" of employees like bussers and kitchen staff along with tip pooling muddy the waters further. Then there's the issue of what qualifies as a "tipped employee." If you put a tip jar on the counter, like a barista or someone who works at a sandwich counter, does that qualify you to have your wages cut?
15
@12 I don't think a business can stop you from legally tipping. All they can do is ask you to leave or insist that the staff refuse to take the tip.
16
@11 Because tips aren't wages. "Everybody is hung up on" equating the two. Just like businesses who want to lump health care and sick days into hourly wages in order to reduce their payroll; it's a red herring.

I tip for service. I tip if the food is expensive, I tip if the food is cheap. The tip doesn't belong to the owner; it belongs to the staff. (And I don't tip people who work behind counters unless I have a special order).

Now, if we want to set a different minimum wage for tipped and untipped employees, the way a lot of minimum wage laws are, let's have that discussion honestly. You want to pay servers 10/hour plus tips? Let's discuss it.
17
Im confused by the Stranger's coverage of this issue... Are restaurant servers and bar tenders and baristas the only minimum wage employees in Seattle? It seems to me we are getting awfully hung up on the trickiness of how this will work for a small sub-set of of people.

Also, its pretty fucking obvious that the only way tips will just magically disappear is if these restaurant owners no longer allow them. The general public will still tip their 15/hour servers and bar tenders and Meinert fucking knows that.
18
This confirms my suspicious about the "anonymous" female server who The Stranger published regarding tip credit. The problem with people like Meinert is that they take the time to learn about the issues enough to manipulate them to their own benefit. They become a "voice" in their community and unfortunately, for whatever reasons, a lot of folks take people like him at face value.
19
I know that 15Now is sexy and all but I sure wish you would devote a little more time to the current Transit vote. That seems to have gotten lost in the MW wash. I am pretty worried about this one.

Please remember to vote everyone! Thank you.
20
@12 - They can't stop you in the sense that they don't have "tip bouncers" to cram the money back in your pocket when you leave. They can mandate their staff refuse to take money or face termination, and state if you leave a tip on the table, it goes to the house, not the staff.
21
@16 the IRS disagrees. According to the Government tips are wages, asserting that they aren't even for the sake of conversation is false.
22
@17 How many hotels, temp agencies, retail stores, etc advertise in The Stranger?
23
I love how Meinert is trying to pull in the servers a la Stockholm Syndrome. OK, maybe love is the wrong word...
24
@22- thank you for clearing up my confusion.
25
@21 - Noooo. The IRS determines tips to be taxable earned income, which is all the IRS cares about. They take no stance on whether it's a wage or not.

A wage is the money that is received either monthly, weekly, daily, by the hour, etc., and wages are income. Tips are also income, but, by definition, they are not wages; they are a variable gratuity.
26
@23 - yeah that paternal instinct would have made him a very benevolent slave owner.
27
This is getting ridiculous. Threatening employees with retaliation in the form of restricting tips (given voluntarily by customers) and reduced wages unless they join in the fight against their own fundamental needs is petty and the lowest form of anti-worker activism. Even worse is the use of Target/Walmart style direct lobbying of workers to make them question their own demands while implying their jobs and livelihoods are imperiled.
28
Today I tip 15% regardless, 20% for good service, more for outstanding service.

In a $15/hour world I’ll only tip on outstanding service.
29
The 5 Point needs to change its sign to "WE CHEAT TOURISTS-N-DRUNKS SINCE 1929. AND THE REST OF THE PUBLIC SINCE 2009."
30
It's going to get ugly before it gets better. The list of restaurants I am no longer interested in dining at keeps getting longer and longer.
31
@22 Quite a few?
32
Frankly… I can’t remember the last time I sat down to a dinner and tipped less than $15 for every hour I sat at that table. Usually it’s closer to $25/hour in tips when I dine out. That’s before wages.

Seems to me many waiters (probably most really good waiters) are already pulling down $15 an hour or more in total compensation, the pragmatic thing to do would be to acknowledge that and address the poor bastard doing my landscaping for minimum wage instead. (Of course he’s an illegal alien and paid his pittance under the table anyway so it won’t much matter).
33
Maybe we should stop tipping now and only start tipping again when wages go up to $15/hour.
34
@21 The IRS also counts frequent flier miles earned based on work travel as taxable income. Would you consider those wages?
35
One place to look for evidence here in Washington, in 1989, when I-518 went into effect, eliminating the tip penalty and ensuring tipped workers make the same base wage as everybody else. It's been this way in Washington for 26 years.

Did tipping decline? No.

Did most establishments eliminate tipping? No.

Did ANY establishments eliminate tipping? No.

Did tipped workers make less after I-518 increase their base wage by 85% in one swoop? No.

Do tipped workers in Washington make less than those in states where the tipped wage is only $2.13/hr? No.

If you're a Washington waiter or bartender, do you dream of moving to Idaho or Oklahoma or Texas so that you can enjoy a base wage of $2.13/hr and let those fat, fat tips roll in? Do you, in fact? No.

Ask any other tipped workers. Is it better in states where there's a separate tipped wage? Was it better before 1989? Don't ask Dave Meinert. He's protecting his empire. He's carrying water for a corporate monstrosity actually called Yum! Brands [sic]. Dang, he and his co-owners have like 9 restaurants. How is that not "corporate"?

Make a side by side comparison. The experiment has been done in the real world and we can all see the results.
36
"... a service charge will be implemented which would have sales tax taken out and would have to be used to pay for the wage increases."

Am I reading this right that Meinert is saying that he'd add a service charge on each bill to pay for the minimum wage increase, a la the folks who tried to put a service charge to pay for the city's recent sick leave legislation? Because if so, that's fuuucked.
37
I wonder how many angry emails Tim Keck has received over this post.
38
@15,

Yes, that's my point. Either way, it's not a free speech issue. A business doesn't have to suffer your "free speech" if it doesn't want to. By all means, leave a tip at the table, but the business isn't curtailing your rights if it enforces a policy that the server can't accept the tip, if the business instead donates your tip to charity, or if the business declines to serve you again in the future.

#3 is operating under the typical, asinine American assumption that "free speech" means you can do/say whatever you want, and no one can stop you. Exhibit A: any right-wing commenter on any left-wing blog who whines about being "censored".
39
@35 Well said!
40
The other thing I want to know is how does the city of Seattle keep track of how much each tipped worker makes each shift and makes sure that they're always getting at least $15 per hour. What documentation does a waiter produce to prove that they didn't make $15 and need their employer to make up the difference? Who checks up to make sure employers aren't cheating?

It's hard enough to enforce wage theft with the existing system, but at least it's simple and uniform. Something the police and city attorney can handle. Yeah, I know they need to do a lot better. But this whole tip thing is so much more complicated, it's going to require paying specialist bureaucrats to collect all kinds of data, and do all kinds of audits.

And that's just tips. Don't forget, we need a whole other system to measure the value of health insurance. And vacation. And every little perk the employer dreams up.

Who is going to pay for this whole new Seattle government bureaucracy? Is the chamber of commerce proposing a new tax to finance this? Or what?

I hope they're not suggesting we all just trust Dave Meinert to be fair and square with each worker. And how is Dave going to do that, anyway? Does he hire another accountant to track all these tips and benefits and portion out a varying hourly wage to keep everyone at $15 or more? Is Dave going to cheerfully pay this accountant to spend however many hours it takes to give each worker their due? Or is he going to tell the guy to fudge it, make an "estimate" that errs on the side of the bottom line?
41
@35, I agree with all of your points. However, I'm still hung up on where a dishwasher gets $15/hr and no tips and a waiter gets $15/hr plus tips. At any decent restaurant, I'd take $10/hr plus tips over $15/hr any day. Hell, even buffet type restaurant 'waiters' (really glorified busboys) get more than $5/hr in tips.
42
@ 35 - Stop looking at the big picture and presenting reasonable facts. The Stranger is framing the terms of this debate and those terms are clearly limited to anecdotal evidence (offered by their drinking buddies), hypothetical scare mongering and outright lies.
43
Ask 10 people if they think investing in a restaurant is a good idea, and 9 out of 10 will say no, its just too risky. But for some reason when you talk about minimum wage everyone thinks restaurants are rolling in money. I don't get it.

If this initiative goes through without a tip credit, the restaurant business will have to fundamentally restructure. Thats what happens when half the staff wages go up by 60%. Price increases don't always equal revenue increases. Dave Meinert is smart enough to know this, and honest enough to warn his staff that the current model could change. A $15 wage and higher prices WILL change the way many people tip. Maybe the sky isn't falling, but if I was a server who made 75% of my income from tips I would take a long look at this.

And seriously, calling Dave out just shows how irresponsible Dominic is. Every restaurant owner in the city is having candid conversations with their employees right now. Both sides are talking, and the tipped employees are finally getting involved.

44
@41 - If a side effect of 15/hour is that some waiters end up making a very good earning, thats just something i think we'll all be able to deal with. right?
45
Meinert's notion is ridiculous. Everyone's costs are going up but guess what? More people can eat at his restaurants.

Seriously, Stranger, do you need to let every one of your advertisers have a free platform to trot out their inner John Birch?
46
Tips, Commissions and Bonuses and are all real money and go toward ones living expenses no matter the source. Health Care is mandated by law, so if you get it at work, that is a real benefit and has the same value as cash.
If the goal of $15 NOW is to guarantee $15 an hour for everyone, $15 NOW should have no problem with including verifiable income of all types, no matter the source. Get the people the money.
David Meinert agrees that folks should get at least $15, you would think that would make him a friend of the movement instead of a person to attack. But hey, politics is not logical….
POLICY has impacts, intended and unintended. If there is no recognition of this “other” massive piece of income to front of house works, the TIPPING model will change for sure. Weather that is a function of customers feeling they no longer have to tip as much since the min wage is $15 an hour, and/or it is a function of restaurant owners just saying fuck it, let’s just go to the Euro-model and include it in the price. Top line or bottom line price it won’t matter it will still be there and going out to eat will be expensive and people will do it less.
Either way, servers and bartenders will make less overall money in my opinion. Ask a bartender if he would rather work a catering gig with a no host bar or normal bar, and you will find out the answer? Or ask a European server for that matter if they would rather have it there way or ours for their persona income purposes.
When servers and bartenders are asking all of us bar and restaurant owners what we think will happen if this goes through without TIPS being Counted as Wages, they only thing to tell them is the Truth. The Truth is that the TIPPING Model will change forever and that will not be good for their own incomes. Us greedy restaurant owners will figure out a solution….
David is an easy target, so am I for that matter, I live in Queen Anne at an $800K, I’ll save you having to look it up. But we are not the enemy here. We think people should make more money and have a guaranteed $15/hr in the foreseeable future. Having said that there is no reason to blow up the entire TIPPING MODEL and hurt bartenders and servers’ income in the process. And if having full disclosure to the people this will affect the most (servers and bartenders), I’m guilty along with every other restaurant owner (who is also not the enemy).
Nick Licata is right, this TIPPING thing, is the only thing that will drive people away from the overall increase in wages movement and we may end up with nothing.
If you are for higher wages, what do you really care where those wages come from so long as they are accounted and verified. Unless you have a completely other agenda?
You would think the Republicans do this to us on purpose, but it really friend fighting friend here. Such a shame. Marcus Charles, The Crocodile and Local 360
47
So, is The Stranger going to stop slobbering all over Dave Meinert every time he opens a new restaurant now? Just wondering. I've always thought he was full of BS and I don't understand why he's treated like some hipster mogul around here. He's just another rich a**hole looking to make more money off his workers by scaring them into supporting a law that hurts them. Also, what a scumbag for using tips that are meant for his employees as a negotiating tactic to scare them. I'm never going to one of his restaurants again and I hope you won't either. This guy has gotten waaaaayyyy to much good press over the years and it's time that ends.
48
Ask 10 people if they think investing in a restaurant is a good idea, and 9 out of 10 will say no, its just too risky. But for some reason when you talk about minimum wage everyone thinks restaurants are rolling in money. I don't get it.

If this initiative goes through without a tip credit, the restaurant business will have to fundamentally restructure. Thats what happens when half the staff wages go up by 60%. Price increases don't always equal revenue increases. Dave Meinert is smart enough to know this, and honest enough to warn his staff that the current model could change. A $15 wage and higher prices WILL change the way many people tip. Maybe the sky isn't falling, but if I was a server who made 75% of my income from tips I would take a long look at this.

And seriously, calling Dave out just shows how irresponsible Dominic is. Every restaurant owner in the city is having candid conversations with their employees right now. Both sides are talking, and the tipped employees are finally getting involved.
49
Not surprising how evasive he was with his email replies. Did he think there would be no follow-up?
50
NO, I would not work there, and hell no I would not spend my money there. There is absolutely NO WAY to guarantee that a person will make tips, or that they will always make a minimum amount of tips per shift. Pay a living wage.
51
http://horsesass.org/five-proposals-for-…
Bring Goldy back!!!

I really hope none of Meinert's employees falls for his bs.
52
@25 Tips are also income, but, by definition, they are not wages; they are a variable gratuity.

? You have to pay taxes, medicare, social security withholding, and tell the IRS they're wages. ? Maybe posters should identify if they've ever worked a tipped income job before they blather.

http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc761.html
When you receive the tip report from your employee, use it to figure the amount of social security, Medicare, and income taxes to withhold for the pay period on both wages and reported tips. You are responsible for paying the employer's portion of the social security and Medicare taxes. You must collect the employee's portion of the social security and Medicare taxes and the federal income taxes.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1244.pdf
You must include all tips, including tips not reported to your employer, as wages on your income tax return.
Your employer must withhold income, social security, and Medicare (or railroad retirement) taxes on tips you report. Your employer usually deducts the withholding due on tips from your
regular wages.
53
I don't understand this: If you're making $15 an hour, there's not gonna to be much need for tips, unless you're averaging about $20 - $40 a day getting them! Not the greatest money, but fairly livable if you're single and have no kids.
54
Read the comments in this thread, clearly this is going to change tipping. Most servers and bartenders make $20 or more off tips alone, whether they work in dive bars or high end restaurants. I guess Dave was right to warn his staff.
55
@40

For the 50th time, how come there wasn't a fundamental restructure of restaurants in 1989 when the same tipped workers wages increased by, not 60%, but 85%? Not only did I-518 increase the wages of non-tipped workers, it brought the tipped wage to parity with everyone else.

And nothing happened!

Did it? It's not ancient history. It's 1989. Here. In Washington. I'm not asking you to relate this to the Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece. We're comparing Washington restaurants now with Washington restaurants 26 years ago. Or compare Washington restaurants right now with Texas restaurants night now, or New Mexico restaurants right now.

Believe it or not, I'd change my mind on the tip wage if somebody would just show me some evidence that A is better than B. I think the way things have been in Washington for the last 26 years is better. If it's not better in Washington, show me.
56
And guess what, tip credits REDUCE the employer's liability for Medicare and Social Security payments. It's a big win for someone like Meinert - he doesn't have to pay his staff as much since his customers will be floating the cost of his labor and his tax liability will also go down.
57
At today's Council hearings the restaurants admitted they would hire more English-speaking American citizens

Which is who votes in Seattle
58
@54

That's a very compelling claim. Most bartenders and waiters make over $20/hr in tips alone. Do you have proof of this? Where is your data coming from?

The Seattle Times says 40% of minimum wage workers are at the Federal poverty line or below. How can 4 in 10 be in poverty, yet, you claim, more than half of tipped workers are making over $20/hr. That's a huge spread. It's possible, I guess, but it's an extraordinary claim. Could it be there are many, many tipped workers not lucky enough to be at a Tom Douglas rich guy hangout? I suspect there are a great many of the 100,000 minimum wage workers in Seattle who are not at five star restaurants.

As with what I tried to ask above @43, where is your data coming from? If you had evidence of your claims, it would be enough to change my mind. A lot of restauranteurs are getting caught lying here in the Stranger. So we're kind of wary of unverifiable claims.
59
If I've learned anything from slog in the last couple weeks, it's that I really don't like Dave Meinert.
60
Tips are wages and taxed by the government. We already pay servers the highest hourly rate in the nation. Making restaurants pay their servers and bartenders $15/hour will cripple the local restaurant industry. It's bad for the bottom line of the employer AND employee. It's really a simple concept. Total Compensation is the only way small, locally owner restaurants can continue to operate.
61
Hey, do you support equal pay for equal work, regardless of race or gender? Then tip based income should be illegal. Right now, people who earn from tips have NONE of the labor protections that apply to normal wages and salary. Customers can, and do, tip less based on race and gender. It's a barbaric system, not to mention a passive aggressive way to mess with someone's livelihood because they put too much ice in your water, or whatever. Just put a 15% service charge on restaurant tab and pay workers through a proper wage system. Don't like the service? Hey, howabout telling the manager what you didn't like instead of stealing out of a waiter's pocket.
62
@52 - Did you not read the first part of my post?

Both wages and tips fall under the broad category of "taxable earned income", which also covers salaries, union strike benefits, and long-term disability benefits. That does NOT mean that wages are the same as tips. Asking how the IRS defines wages vs. tips is a red herring.

Jeebus.
63
I have direct experience managing dozens of independent restaurants in Seattle. I have looked at the raw information in payroll. Here is how it works:

Fine dining
20 customers a night, $50 per guest, sales $1,000, 20% tip = $200, tip out about $40 to support staff, take home $160 for 6 1/2 hours worked = $25 per hour

Casual
40 customers a night, $25 per guest, sales $1,000, 20% tip = $200, tip out about $40 to support staff, take home $160 for 6 1/2 hours worked = $25 per hour

These are pretty conservative numbers but its a good place to start. It tends to work about the same regardless of where you work. Of course there are obviously many outliers. Lunch jobs usually pay less, and of course if its a slow place... But don't take my word for it, pay attention next time you are in a restaurant, watch your server or bartender, count their tables or barstools, look at your tip, do the math
64
Please...Meinert is not saying that servers will only make the base minimum wage. What he is saying is that the total distributable service charge after covering the expenses for the increase in the minimum wage will overall be less than they are making today. So yes, in effect "tipping" goes away but is replaced by a service charge that will net out a lot less to all servers and bartenders. The easy remedy is a tip credit but that would just be too easy. Seems like Seattle likes to be on the leading edge of fucking things up..
65
@46: I haven't been to Local 360 since you endorsed and helped fund Rob McKenna's run for governor in 2012. Mindless advocacy has its consequences, and is sometimes bad for business. Be sure to let your staff know that.
66
Dear @63:

Your personal anecdotal experience and back-of-a-napkin calculations do not trump large amounts of statistical data (cit ref @58, for example), so your "pretty conservative numbers" aren't worth squat.

Now, when you've had a chance to compare notes with several tens of thousands of low-wage hotel maids, contract laborers, fast-food servers, child-care and home health care aides, parking lot attendants, security guards, landscapers, etc., etc. (none of whom generaly earn tip income, BTW), THEN get back to us with your "expertise" on Minimum Wage employment issues, m'kay?
67
@Tim Baker: Describing the conversation Dave is having with his servers as "candid" is bullshit. That was the entire point of this post. Also, you keep explaining why we should have a tip credit, and then saying "so give us total compensation." If the tipped servers are really making so much, why do you need total compensation instead of just a tip credit? You guys are disingenuous at best, lying at worst, and I'm leaning towards lying.
68
servers in seattle are paid over four times more than servers in texas, yet seattle servers are still tipped. so if servers in seattle are paid six times more than servers in texas, all the sudden people are going to stop tipping? right. that makes A LOT of sense.
69
Restaurants run on thin profit margins. Most longtime restaurant workers, like myself, know of a former employer who is no longer in business. When you hear us argue against across the board, unconditional increase of minimum wage it is not because we are being manipulated. It is because we are concerned about the economic health of our chosen career.
70
@69 Restaurants are going to go out of business anyway. Read the Stranger. Restaurants close every month.

The restaurant industry is not going to go away because the minimum wage rises.
71
I'm just a single person, but if restaurant prices go up ~20% because of a 60% increase in wage, I will probably cook and drink at home a lot more and tip $1-3 instead of 15-18%. No idea what the effects will be on a large scale.
72
@69

So do restaurants stay in business longer in places where the tipped wage is only $2.13 per hour? Because if they did, that would be a compelling statistical argument.

Saying, "a lot" of restaurants have gone out of business doesn't say much one way or the other.

But once again, if anybody were to produce actual data showing that conditions are better -- for workers, for employers, for anybody -- in places with a tipped wage vs places like Washington with no tipped wage, then you'd have some meat in that sandwich. Some beef in your burger. Or, less metaphorically, some argument in your non-argument.

I could feel good supporting a tip penalty if somebody could back it up with facts.
73
@62, so then what's your definition of a tip vs a wage when it's an employee who may be in a tipped wage position, like a server ?
74
@58 said, "The Seattle Times says 40% of minimum wage workers are at the Federal poverty line or below. How can 4 in 10 be in poverty, yet, you claim, more than half of tipped workers are making over $20/hr."

What percentage of minimum wage workers are tipped workers? 'cause I suspect that the vast majority are not. Oh look. Your article says:

"A quarter of Seattle residents who make minimum wage work in the accommodation and food-services industry"

So, less than 25%.

Also, who says that those tipped workers are getting 40 hours a week?
75
#55- You're right- it was only 1988 when the large minimum wage increase passed. If only someone had taken the time to research the results...oh wait!

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/opinionnw/…

"More than 100,000 employees got wage increases in 1989 and 1990 because of the rise in Washington’s legal minimum. Over two years, employers reported laying off 11,700 workers “as a result of the minimum wage increases.” Employees reported about the same number."

So 100,000 people got laid off and 11,700 lost their jobs, most of those being in the bar and restaurant industry. Then, when employers started hiring people back, they tended to hire people that were older. Weird...it's almost like the concerns we keep talking about regarding bar and restaurant folks losing their jobs and youth unemployment going up MIGHT ACTUALLY BE REAL!

And before anyone wants to claim some pro-business bias on the part of the researcher, the UW Northwest Policy Center was a part of the Evans School of Public Policy, the exact same group of folks that published the study on the current state of the minimum wage upon request of the city.
76
Feel Good Goldy..Feel Good and support it. There is your first Carve out..Whats next "training wage" for teens(12months)..Then a 3 year phase in. Feels good doesnt it!! your starting to see the light..
77
@46. Great breakdown. This seems very clear.

“Tips, Commissions and Bonuses are all real money and go toward ones living expenses no matter the source. . . . If the goal of $15 NOW is to guarantee $15 an hour for everyone, $15 NOW should have no problem with including verifiable income of all types, no matter the source. Get the people the money. . . . If you are for higher wages, what do you really care where those wages come from so long as they are accounted and verified.”

If the only answer is that it will be an enforcement issue, not to worry, there will be a new Seattle Department of Labor to ensure compliance of this new ordinance. Put your efforts there and be done with this debate. If you think it will be impossible to protect workers against wage theft, leave the tipped workers at the existing state minimum wage and be done with this debate.

Tipped workers in Seattle are not low wage workers.
78
What utter bullshit. Instituting a $15 minimum wage will have almost no effect at all on tips. Tipping is an ingrained part of our culture, and of the culture in much of the world. If we raise the minimum wage, the world will not stop turning, and people will not stop tipping.

I have been somewhat sceptical, but willing to listen to Dave Meinert's arguments. I do understand that it will be harder for small businesses to deal with a large increase in labor cost. But his credibility is completely in the toilet if he is resorting to ridiculously absurd scare tactics to intimidate his employees. I'm done listening to his bullshit.
79
@75, First of all, your statement: "So 100,000 people got laid off and 11,700 lost their jobs, most of those being in the bar and restaurant industry." is utterly incorrect. The referenced study says 100,000 people got a pay increase and 11,700 got laid off. Reading comprehension is a good skill.

That said, I can't seem to find the actual text of this study anywhere. Nor is there any information on what percentage of the workforce was laid off in the prior years, or years later. See - if you could show that in 1988, 0 people got laid off, and then in 1990 and 1991 there were 6,000 people laid off per year, and then in 1992, 0 people got laid off, you'd have more of an argument.
80
Meinert is now cribbing his behavior straight from the Old School Union-Busting Playbook: sow fear/uncertainty/doubt among employees, whose livelihoods you implicitly or explicitly threaten, then "encourage" them to publicly concur with your version of the facts.

At least he's showing his true colors unabashedly.
81
@65/Doug, Funny you accuse me of mindless advocacy when I actually use logic for my positions which are probably more similar to yours than you would like to admit. How's Inslee doing on Education in our State... About the same as the other D's who preceded him for the 20+years backed by labor only dollars... And I vote D about 90% of the time... Ideological purity at the sake of logic and pragmatism makes for a mindless society in my view point. Glad you don't patronage my places. Best of luck with your endeavors.
82
Dave Meinert, the newest recipient of the Seattle's Biggest Scumbag award.
83
What #61 said. I know it's different issue and not going to happen, but tipping is not a great way to pay people for most of their wage. I should know, I waited tables for 10 years. My favorite job was catering in hotel, we got a standard 20% and could just focus on our job. If occasionally a big group wanted to give a little extra great. Also, I have been to Japan and they seem to get along fine without any tipping.
84
Thanks Dominic for not letting advertising dictating your articles about attention whore/greasy spoon owner Dave Meinert. If I hear another entity refer to this middle-aged white male as a "hipster" I'm going to pass out. That email is disgusting.
85
@76

You think I'm Goldy! That's cute. Derp.
86
@81: I read your "logic" here. It's nonsense.
87
Years ago, I worked in a state with a reduced minimum wage for tipped employees. That reduced wage applied to all hours in a specific job, but did not factor in whether a worker received enough tips to bring their total income up to above minimum wage. Any shift I worked included time before and after we opened for a meal, as it was a hotel dining room that was not open all day. Most of the hotel's guests were older wealthy people with meals included in the cost of their room. It was not unusual for me to work a 5 hour lunch shift, and only walk out with $6 in change for tips. Seriously, people would have what would have had a nice check if the meal was not included, and would throw less than a buck in change on the table.

Yeah, no fricking way I will ever support a minimum wage law that leaves workers to depend on the generosity of customers. Especially if the restaurant expects the staff to treat known cheap tippers with anything but open scorn and hostility. I find it funny how some restaurant owners think their profit margin is too slim, as they drive their nice shiny car home while their staff hopes Metro doesn't cut their bus. Yeah, I remember back when I was working in food service, right after the owner bought a shiny new Range Rover, employee shift meals suddenly went from included as part of our compensation, to a 40% discount off the menu price. Restaurant need cook, servers, and bartenders to operate; they often run best when the owner is there least.
88
@48
And 9 out of 10 would be right. Which is why I dont really mind pouring a little more risk on your industry. There is no compelling data to suggest that there will actually be more risk, remember. But even if there was, I dont really mind. Worst case scenario, an already extremely risky and high failure rate industry see a little more risk, and maybe, more failure. Whatevs. Its not a shakeup of a stable, blue chip industry. The fact of the matter is that if you own a restaurant, its probably going to close sometime anyway. If you want to make a ton of money and had a stable life and not have to worry about risk, sell your restaurant and open something else.
89
@80
yep. Its an old playbook, but it still works sometimes.
90
"Again, there is no evidence—that I could find—to support this speculation." - Dominic Holden

You couldn't find it because you don't look for it.

Dave is right. If you had asked any restaurant/bar owners, you'd know this. Have you asked any restaurant or bar owners what they'd do if this went though, Dominic? No? Of course you haven't. You haven't because if you had, you'd be forced to either call all of us liars or be forced to admit that you're wrong. And, y'r not good at that - the former or latter.

The reality is that if this goes through, many restaurants will switch to a service charge, some of which will go to paying the new massive payroll expense, meaning that when there's a service charge on a tab, tips will UNQUESTIONABLY be fewer and far between(er). EVERYONE in restaurant industry management knows this.

Why don't you? Oh! Right! Because you don't ask anyone.

Christoper, Bethany - why is this guy still working for you? He does not have a whit of unbiased professionalism in, on or around him. Why not just hire a Teabagger next? Actually, he's the far-Lefty version of a Teabagger.
91
@90
So restaurant owners deciding to do something is somehow now an unavoidable consequence that must be mitigated by changing the law? What?! If they want to raise the prices, they should do it. "Not raising prices" but putting in a service charge is just a way to try to get the extra money they need out of their staffs' pockets instead of their customers. And that says something about the owners confidence in whether or not their business is providing a worthwhile service. Also, its scummy.
92
Dear @66, COMTE

Not listening to the personal experience of people who are directly impacted by this issue makes you a jerk.
93
Also, Dominic, don't sweat it that you could find any evidence. No one here expects you to do any actual REPORTING.
94
@17 The focus on tipped staff by the anti-$15 crowd is planned and strategic. They know it is the easiest way to muddle the waters about what is at stake. The more they muddy he waters in this area, the easier they believe it will be to muddle the waters in other areas as this debate moves forward. Already the really big Chamber money coming in to fight a $15 minimum wage is coming from businesses without tipped employs.
95
@90: Then don't put a service charge on the fucking tab. Duh.

The only reason you want to do it is the same reason why some business owners got pissy and put a sick leave surcharge to their customers bills. You should ask them how well that worked for their restaurants.

And who the fuck trolls the comments section of a newspaper that they pulled their advertising from? That's kinda pathological.
96
Everyone quotes the 1988 minimum wage increase, but that was to bring our state up to a national level. Currently, Washington has the highest minimum wage for tipped employees and we're talking about increasing it by 67%. This is a HUGE difference.

I have been a tipped employee for 14 years and I make a very good living at my career. Restaurants and bars cannot absorb this kind of minimum wage increase without having to restructure their model, which is a threat to our entire industry and the employees in it. The 15Now movement wants a minimum of $15/hr for everyone, this is great, but so many tipped employees are already making far more, and not including total pay is only hurting the restaurant and bar industry and its workers.
97
@96, I'm sorry JimR, but I moved here years ago from a state with tip credit and have normally not thought too much of leaving a 25% tip to help the server have a good night. However, with now knowing about how WA doesn't have tip credit and thinking prices here are just higher, especially if $15 now is implemented as a flat min wage, I'm going to be paring back on my tipping. It's dawning on me that 10% of that steak may be paying the server already.
98
Dominic, do you read your comment threads or listen to http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive… ? Jess from 15Now said she doesn't believe in tips, and Saru makes a case for why we should eliminate tipping as well.

All of the arguments against a tip credit are also very valid arguments against tipping...
99
15 Now has NEVER advocated for an abolition of tips. Dave Meinert is LYING out of his wealthy mouth.

@JimR - In 1988 77% of the state voted to increase the minimum wage for tipped employees by 85% over 2 years, and employment in those sectors increased at a greater rate than the rest of the economy. This is a larger increase over a shorter period of time than proposed by 15 Now.

A combination of savings due to reduced turnover and increased productivity from workers, modest profit reductions, and very modest price augmentations, have resulted in no statistically significant reductions in employment, as often these stats show increased employment levels.

The data from all increases in the min. wage shows that the likes of Dave Meinert are liars. But the stats may not relate to the impact of this debate on Meinert's establishments, as socially progressive folks that are aware of his advocacy for poverty wages will steer clear of his establishments.

100
@99,
did you not see Jess Spear, 15Now organizing director, posting (and then linking to a story about a restaurant that is now closed and has a lot of reviews for bad service) ? She's a parrot.

We need to move away from tipping in general.

As for how it can change the relationship between servers and customers (as well as the business itself), I could say what I think would happen (all positive), but perhaps it's worth reading this experience:


http://jayporter.com/dispatches/observat…
http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives…