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Tipped Minimum Wage

White House: Raising the Minimum Wage and Tipped Minimum Wage Helps Close Wage Gap, Reduces Poverty

A new report  issued by the White House this morning provides more compelling evidence that raising the minimum wage is critical for advancing fair pay and economic security for women. The report evaluates the impact of the Fair Minimum Wage Act proposed by Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Miller (D-CA) and, like the NWLC analysis of the proposal, finds that women would especially benefit from raising the minimum wage, now just $7.25 an hour, to $10.10 per hour, increasing the tipped minimum cash wage – now just $2.13 an hour – to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and indexing these wages for inflation.

Here are some key findings from the report: Read more »

ICYMI: On Fast Food Wages, the Daily Show Nailed It

I’m recently back from my summer vacation, and one of my favorite ways to catch up on the news is to watch the Daily Show episodes that have lined up on my Tivo.

New Report Spotlights Low Pay, Difficult Work Schedules, and Unaffordable Child Care for Moms in the Restaurant Industry

As the single mother of two young children, Losia Nyankale’s job is what keeps her family afloat. But between earning low wages and having no paid sick days, Losia is just one child care emergency away from losing her job. This pressure made it difficult for Losia to care for her mother when she suffered a stroke, and it forced Losia to return to work immediately after the birth of her second child—despite her doctor’s orders. Losia works long hours to be able to afford her basic living expenses and child care. And she often finds herself in an all-too familiar bind: if she picks up more shifts to earn a better living, the child care costs that she can barely afford now will rise, and she’ll have even less time with her family. Losia would like to go back to school to improve her situation, but the combination of low wages, lack of paid sick days, and lack of affordable child care, keep that dream from coming true for now.

For many years Teresa worked on call as a banquet server and had an extremely difficult time arranging child care at the last minute for her children because of her unpredictable schedule. She found herself turning down jobs or quitting jobs where she wasn’t able to arrange child care, even though she needed the income badly. Like Losia, Teresa was a single mom who often didn’t earn enough money to pay for care. Read more »

Minimum Wage Increase Passed in Connecticut, but Not for Tipped Workers; California, Massachusetts Considering Stronger Measures

It’s the first week in June: temperatures are rising, the cicadas are swarming, and many state legislatures are wrapping up their 2013 sessions. This flurry of legislative activity has included several important steps forward on the minimum wage.

The biggest news comes from Connecticut, where last week the legislature passed – and the governor signed – a bill to increase the state minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 per hour by January 1, 2015. This compromise measure will give a much-needed raise to minimum wage workers in Connecticut, about six in ten of whom are women. An additional 75 cents per hour amounts to $1,500 a year for full-time work, bringing annual wages up from $16,500 to $18,000. That’s a meaningful boost, but still about $500 short of lifting a family of three above the poverty line, much less what is needed in a high-cost state like Connecticut.

And there is a catch: Connecticut’s new law actually reduces the percentage of the minimum wage that employers must pay to workers who receive tips. Today, tipped workers like restaurant servers are entitled to a minimum cash wage that is 69 percent of Connecticut’s full minimum wage ($5.69 per hour). In 2015, when the regular minimum wage is $9.00 instead of $8.25 per hour, tipped workers will be entitled to a minimum cash wage that is 63.2 percent of the full minimum wage ($5.69 per hour) – that is, they will get no raise at all. While most of Connecticut’s minimum wage workers who will get a raise are women, women are also a majority of the tipped workers who will suffer from this unfair exclusion. Read more »

It’s 2.13 – Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

ROC United's Rally on Capitol HillToday is kind of a big deal for advocates pushing for a higher minimum wage (myself included). As you may have heard, in his State of the Union address last night, President Obama called for raising the minimum wage and indexing it to keep pace with inflation – and did so eloquently, I might add:

"We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages. But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong. …

Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. …For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on."

And there’s another reason today is important in the minimum wage fight: February 13 is 2.13 – and $2.13 is the minimum hourly cash wage that millions of tipped workers have been paid since 1991. (Though President Obama didn’t mention the tipped minimum wage in his remarks, the White House affirms that it should be increased along with the regular minimum wage.) Today, tipped workers from across the country convened in Washington, DC to call for the fair wages they have been denied for far too long. Read more »

Good News for Maryland Women: Minimum Wage Increase to Be Introduced

Remember when a hot dog and a soda cost 39 cents? Yeah, neither do we.

We all know that restaurant prices rise nearly every year with inflation. The cost of everything from groceries to gas to rent rises, too. But many workers have not seen their wages rise in years, leaving them straining to make ends meet on paychecks that keep getting smaller relative to the cost of living.

For our neighbors in Maryland, the minimum wage is stuck at $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum, and the minimum cash wage for tipped workers is woefully low at $3.63 per hour (though higher than the federal floor of $2.13 per hour). If the minimum wage had risen with inflation over the past several decades, it would be close to $10.60 per hour today. But neither the minimum wage nor the tipped minimum wage is linked to inflation in Maryland, so the purchasing power of these extremely low wages erodes further each year.

Today, full-time minimum wage earnings in Maryland amount to just $14,500 annually – more than $3,600 below the federal poverty line for a mom with two children. Women represent over 60 percent of the workers struggling to get by on the minimum wage in Maryland, and people of color are disproportionately represented among the minimum wage workforce as well.

But there is good news on the horizon. Maryland lawmakers are about to introduce a bill to gradually raise the Maryland minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.00 per hour, set the tipped minimum wage at 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index both wages to keep pace with inflation. Read more »

Minimum Wage Increase Introduced in House and Senate after Day of Action

Just this Tuesday, workers and advocates joined together in a National Day of Action to fight for an increase in the minimum wage. Two days later, we have cause to celebrate.

Today, Representative George Miller and Senator Tom Harkin introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012. In a strong showing of support in the House, the bill had over 100 cosponsors who recognize the importance of raising the nation’s minimum wage.

Millions of workers – mostly women – struggle to make ends meet on minimum wage earnings. The last increase to the federal minimum wage came three years ago, to just $7.25 per hour. This wage adds up to only $14,500 per year for full-time, year-round workers – wages that would leave a working mother and two children below the poverty line. Read more »

Listen to Mark Bittman – Sustainable Food Requires Sustainable Jobs!

It’s not often that I come to work and find I can credit the same person with the inspiration for both yesterday’s dinner and today’s blog post – but today I’d like to thank Mark Bittman for his delicious tomato panzanella recipe as well as his brilliant NY Times Opinionator post on the substandard wages and working conditions faced by many food industry workers. 

Bittman’s blog post may not be as fun to read as some of his other writing, but it sheds light on a serious issue that is too often overlooked, even by foodies who go to great lengths to assure that farmers and animals are treated with respect. As Bittman observes, “If you care about sustainability — the capacity to endure — it’s time to expand our definition to include workers. You can’t call food sustainable when it’s produced by people whose capacity to endure is challenged by poverty-level wages.” Read more »

This Mother’s Day, Let’s Raise the Minimum Wage

This blog post is a part of NWLC’s Mother’s Day 2012 blog series. For all our Mother’s Day posts, please click here.

As you probably know, Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday. Here at the National Women’s Law Center, we care a lot about mothers – not only our own (although you’re totally awesome, Mom!), but also the millions of women across the country who are trying to raise kids, care for their own aging parents, climb the career ladder, save for retirement, and protect their health – often all at the same time, and often with the odds stacked against them. My work in the Family Economic Security program focuses on advancing policies that help low-income women and their families make ends meet, and if you’ve seen any of my blog posts lately, you’ll know one policy change that could really help working moms is an increase in the minimum wage. 

Women are nearly two-thirds of workers making the federal minimum wage or less. Many of them are mothers struggling to support their families on earnings of less than $15,000 a year for full time work. And on top of their tough jobs – waiting tables, caring for children and homebound seniors, cleaning homes and offices – many face the nearly impossible task of finding affordable care for their children while they’re at work, often without a single paid sick day to fall back on in an emergency.

The Rebuild America Act, introduced by Senator Harkin (D-IA) in late March, would help address several challenges that low-income working moms face by raising the minimum wage, including the minimum cash wage for tipped workers; expanding funding for child care assistance; and guaranteeing paid sick days. Read more »

Where the Women Are – and Aren’t

Women deserve a raise!

Women deserve a raise!

Some more numbers that underscore the importance for women of raising the minimum wage:

  • Annual earnings for a full-time minimum wage worker: $14,500;
  • Minimum cash wage for tipped workers: $2.13;
  • What the typical woman working full time, year round makes for every dollar paid to her male counterpart: 77 cents.