War for tips in New York

War for tips in New York

Bars, restaurants and waiters in New York have raised the knife of war around the convenience or not to suppress the traditional tips, which in many cases are intended only to cover part of the workers' wages, lower than in other sectors.

The waiters in New York, like the rest of the jobs where tips are received, are assigned a minimum wage less than that of other employees.

A proposal to equalize their minimum pay with that of the other sectors by 15 dollars (13.3 euros) per hour and suppress the tips has divided restaurateurs and waiters in the city.

The association Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC), to which some 700 restaurants are attached throughout the country, is one of those that defends the implementation of the new regulations, which the governor of New York, Andrew Cuaomo, proposed in December 2017, but that, at the moment, has remained in the limbo of the laws.

Anthony Advincula, spokesman for ROC, assures Efe that from his organization they advocate "a fair payment that eliminates the minimum wage of the tip workers" and complains about the unfulfilled promises of Cuomo in this regard.

"I have ordered the Labor Department to guarantee that there are no more susceptible workers to be exploited because they depend on tips to survive," the governor said at the end of 2017.

According to studies cited then by the New York Administration, the tip is also related to a higher incidence of sexual harassment and lower salaries for women.

The minimum wage in New York City has recently been set at $ 15 per hour for companies with more than 10 employees and at $ 13.5 for businesses with fewer employees, while workers who receive tips charge 10. or 9 dollars (from 8.9 to 8 euros), depending on the size of the premises.

In the United States, leaving a tip is more a duty than a choice of the client, whose only freedom of decision is practically limited to choosing the amount of the economic reward, which fluctuates between 15 and 20% of the total of the account.

Brian Keyser, owner of the small restaurant Casellula, located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, is one of the hoteliers that defends this measure.

"I support a single fair payment. I see the benefits of tips for those who work in the best and most expensive restaurants who usually make a lot of money thanks to them, and are happy to work for a lower salary, but not for the hundreds of thousands of employees who are working for a few salaries and really low tips, "Keyser tells Efe.

However, not everyone in the sector shares the same idea, like the Mexican Carlos Rodríguez, who works in a coffee shop in upper Manhattan and completely rejects the suppression of tips.

"I'm a barista, I make coffee in the Upper East Side (…), it's the only way we can survive. The majority (of the bosses) does not pay even the minimum wage, "says this 34-year-old waiter, who has been working in New York for a decade in the hospitality industry.

Rodriguez, an activist in the workers' association "Justice Will Be Served," is also suspicious of the minimum wage increase because, he says: "from our experience we see that customers are going to give less (tips)."

This Mexican from Oaxaca, who currently earn between 20 and 25 dollars (from 17.8 to 22.2 euros) the hour thanks to tips, considers that with an increase in salaries, employers "will shorten the hours (of work of their employees) to not take more money out of their pockets."

On the other hand, hoteliers who oppose this initiative, such as Andrew Rigie, executive director of the association New York City Hospitality Alliance, ask that things remain as they are because they fear that the measure will force owners to raise menu prices and, therefore, lose customers.

"We need to breathe, no more regulations," says Rigie, who like Rodriguez believes that the increase in the minimum pay to $ 15 will force the hoteliers to hire workers less hours to avoid incurring more costs and, consequently, , many businesses will close.

Given this, the spokesman of ROC, Anthony Advincula, retorts that California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Montana and Minnesota have already applied similar laws and neither the restoration has collapsed nor the tips have disappeared.


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