|MADIGAN: Siding with waitresses of the world|
She worked in various restaurants where she had to scurry about, was on her feet all day and would usually finish her shifts rather sore and tired. But she always said one of the perks of such work is that, because of tips, one could always count on having a few bucks in cash at the end of a shift.
THAT IS WHY I was pleased to read reports Wednesday saying that the Illinois attorney general’s office was among attorneys from 17 states challenging proposed federal government rules changes that would impact the ability of those people who serve you to keep any tips they’re able to scrounge up.
I’m sure there are some people who support this ideal – largely the ones who think they shouldn’t have to tip at all. After all, those waitresses get paid a salary, they want to believe.
That salary, however, is usually below the minimum wage, which is permitted under the law on the grounds that certain types of workers get tips to make up for the difference.
Maybe some people just arrogantly believe that these restaurant service people are serving them for the pure joy of the work – and that they shouldn’t be worried about ultimate compensation.
WHICH IS ABSURD.
So I appreciate the notion that the attorney general’s office under Lisa Madigan is working together with legal colleagues in other states, including Iowa – but not Indiana, Missouri or Wisconsin -- to challenge the proposal that would allow for employers to take the tips received by the hourly workers they employ.
Back in 2011, then-President Barack Obama imposed a rule for the federal Labor Department saying those workers should keep their tips.
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Maybe this is yet another example of President Donald J. Trump wanting to do away with anything that has the “mark of Obama” connected to it.
BUT NOW, THE Labor Department would permit certain employers like restaurants to collect the tips their servers receive and pool them into a fund to be shared with the kitchen staff.
Restauranteurs argue this ensures that all of the staff gets a share, and that cooks and dishwashers can use a little extra money just as much as the waitresses who are scouring about within sight of the paying customers. That is the reason the Illinois Restaurant Association, among others, supports the rule change.
Although I’d argue this ought to be a case of the restaurant owners having to provide more adequate pay for these minimum-wage workers, rather than counting on the generosity of their customers to cover this particular cost.
I’m not sympathetic to those who’d argue that adding to the restauranteur’s expense threatens their financial bottom line. All businesses have expenses to be met before one can start counting profits. That’s just business.
IT’S LIKE THE old cliché, “You have to spend money to make money.”
Besides, Madigan makes one point that undercuts the argument – she told the Chicago Tribune some 500,000 Illinois workers could lose tips, with employers taking the money and pocketing it. She says there’s no guarantee any tip pool would get distributed back to workers.
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It sounds crass, but it seems like the federal rule change is truly meant to benefit an owner’s pockets – which some people may think is completely appropriate in this Age of Trump that we’re now in.
While also allowing those past customers who used to stiff my mother on tips to claim they’re expressing some great ideological concept instead of just stating simple fact – they’re cheapskates!