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State Legislators Propose Cuts to Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers, Younger Workers

Recently we’ve been happy to report on some good news about the minimum wage, including the Department of Labor’s proposed regulations to extend federal minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers (there is still time to submit comments to show your support for these workers), and the Delaware Senate’s passage of legislation to raise the minimum wage in the state to $8.25.

Today, unfortunately, I bring you grim news about two states that are proposing to cut the minimum wage for tipped workers and younger workers. Legislators in Florida and Arizona have proposed new measures that would make their already low tipped minimum cash wages even lower.

In Florida, Senate Bill 2106 would cut the state tipped minimum cash wage from $4.65 to the federal minimum of just $2.13 (which, in addition to being bad policy, may also violate the state constitution). In Arizona, the House Committee on Commerce has approved a ballot initiative, HCR 2056, which would lower the state’s tipped minimum cash wage from $4.65 to $2.53.

The Arizona proposal would also slash the minimum wage for workers under the age of 20 in part time or temporary jobs by up to $3.00, from $7.65 to $4.65.

As we highlighted previously, a recent report from Restaurant Opportunities Center United explains that the extremely low tipped minimum cash wage is particularly hard on women, who make up two-thirds of tipped restaurant workers. Raising the minimum wage, including the tipped minimum wage, would help to pull women and their families out of poverty and close the wage gap. Instead, proposals to lower the tipped minimum wage, like those put forward in Florida and Arizona, would make an already bad situation even worse, with many women and their families left holding the bag.

Not to leave you on such a low note, I do have a little good news to report out of New Jersey, where the General Assembly’s Labor Committee recently approved a bill that would raise the minimum wage from the federal level of $7.25 to $8.50 and index it for inflation. Let’s hope that bills like this one, which would improve the lives of women and their families, represent the trend.

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