New York restaurant king Danny Meyer has been ahead of the tipping curve. In October, he announced that he would phase out tipping at all of his restaurants by the end of this year. Now Meyer is standing behind a consistent minimum wage for all workers. In an interview with the co-director of ROC United (a national restaurant workers' advocacy organization), Meyer discussed Governor Cuomo's $15 minimum wage proposal, saying:
"I would say that whatever a legislature decides should be the minimum wage for everybody. It shouldn't be for hairdressers but not for servers. For fast-food workers but not for lawyers. Whatever it is, is what it should be for everybody."
At most restaurants in New York, servers are paid a "tipped minimum wage," meaning they are paid less than the general minimum wage with the difference coming from tips. That number rose sharply in the New Year from $5 to $7.50 an hour. A jump to $15 before tips would be monumental, but it's where San Francisco's and Seattle's are headed in the coming years.
Meyer, however, stops short at addressing whether or not workers earning $15 an hour should also be tipped by diners. One model that has been floated during the recent tipping debate suggests raising wages for all workers (like Meyer is doing at his restaurants) and abolishing tipping entirely. To do this across all restaurants in a given city (or even the entire country) would be a radical move, but with the largest conversation around restaurant workers ever, nothing can be ruled out.
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