AUGUSTA – Maine voted back last November to raise the state’s minimum wage. The increase went into effect Saturday.
There’s one group of workers who are aren’t very happy about the new law.
Now, some legislators are trying to find a way to amend the minimum wage increase law so restaurant servers don’t lose money.
The law voters approved failed to include the so-called tip credit for servers. Basically, it allows servers to be paid half the minimum wage, with the balance made up by tips. However, since the referendum passed there’s been some confusion among customers.
Steve Hewins of The Maine Restaurant Association said “We’re hearing from a lot of restaurants that their customers are asking, do I have to pay you a tip now, because you’re getting a regular wage like everybody else.”
So, some lawmakers are trying to build a coalition who favor amending the referendum question.
“And, you know servers are being paid at a different rate than they were previously. And I think that has the potential to do damage to the restaurant industry.” added Senate President mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport.
Democrat Speaker of the House Sara Gideon was not available for comment on the issue Thursday.
Already some long-time servers have left the industry, while others say they want the issue fixed.
Hewins added “You know, they’re worried that the whole tradition of tipping could go away. The whole concept of serving people in exchange for getting a tip could leave us.”
But Thibodeau believes the legislature will resolve the issue. He said “We’re very concerned about that. We’re hoping to get the issue resolved sooner rather than later.”
Now in the days and weeks ahead, legislators will grapple with how, if at all, they should amend the referendum questions that were approved by voters in November.