Waitresses Can’t Feed Their Families on Poverty-Level Wages

On TV, Amy Poehler plays everyone from Hillary Clinton to a parks administrator. But, in real life, she worked as a waitress for more than a decade before being able to earn a living in show business.

That’s why she and other famous actresses are calling for raising the minimum wage for restaurant servers and other tipped workers, including those in nail salons and car washes.

Current System Unfair and Unworkable. Currently, in 43 states, restaurants can pay servers a sub-minimum wage—below the poverty rate. Supposedly they can earn back the difference in tips. But, the U.S. Department of Labor has found that, 84 percent of the employers were in violation of the law, often keeping the tips for themselves. And these tipped workers, mostly women, are vulnerable to harassment by bosses and customers.

National Fight for Fairness. Seven states – Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington – require employers to pay servers the regular minimum wage. Spurred by One Fair Wage and the Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, a national campaign is urging decent pay for tipped workers, with efforts underway in New York, Michigan and other states. In addition to Poehler, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and performing artists at the Golden Globes are rallying to the cause.

Trump Ripoff Rule. Meanwhile, President Trump’s Labor Department is proposing a rule that would let bosses pocket servers’ tips, supposedly sharing them with non-tipped workers. The Economic Policy Institute estimates this would cost workers $5.8 billion in stolen tips, with women losing $4.6 billion.