N.J. considers raising minumum wage for tip workers

A New Jersey Assembly committee has advanced legislation that would a set a minimum wage for employees who work for tips.

The measure would require waiters, waitresses and anyone else who relies on tips to be paid a minimum of $2.90 an hour beginning in June. It would go up to $5 an hour a year later.

She says the poverty rate for most tipped employees is almost three times that of the overall work force, said Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, D-Paterson.

“Servers rely on food stamps at nearly double the rate of the general population. That means many workers who serve America its food can not afford to eat, an irony that would be amusing if it weren’t so tragic,” said Sumter, one of the bill’s main sponsors.

Some in the restaurant industry says the legislation would be a job killer for many restaurants in the state that are operating at low profit margins.

“I’m not crying wolf. This is a job killer,” said Francis Schott, owner of two restaurants in New Brunswick. “There are many, many marginal restaurants in this state, and this is a huge expense because we employ so many people at all different skill levels. The tip exception … removing that would be disastrous for many businesses.”

Supporters of the measure say it’s vitally important to many working families, especially women who make up the majority of tipped workers.

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