BANGOR – In its effort to keep tip credit in the state, a new organization is looking to server restaurant employees across the country.
After successfully fighting to restore the tip credit in Maine, restaurant workers and owners have come together across the state to form RestaurantWorkersofAmerica.org(RWA).
“We want to reach tipped employees all across the United States that want to protect and preserve their industry and tipped income,” said Carrie Smith, a board member of RWA. “They love what they do, they love their industry and we want to give them a voice.”
According to those who are a part of RWA, federal law allows workers to be paid a lower minimum wage as long as they earn at least the full minimum wage when tips are included. But recently, the tip credit has been a controversial debate across the state and country.
“In the restaurant industry, the customer is either pay a reasonable menu price plus tip depending on service, or they are going pay double-triple the menu cost without a tip,” said Smith.
In states without the tip credit, everyone in the business starts with the same minimum wage. According to members in RWA, it could force restaurants to raise prices to cover costs.
“And then you hope, the customer can still afford to tip once they’ve paid the inflated menu price to cover the restaurant’s labor costs,” said Smith.
Members of the organization say, customers might not receive the same service if employees don’t have incentive to work for tips.
“We consider our industry a commission based industry,” said Smith. “I work for a small pay, a small based salary and then I earn commission depending on my sales and service, and I want that to continue.”
Since they’ve recently launched the website, they say they’ve heard from people from numerous states. They believe this website will be a tool to help servers make their voices heard.
“Nobody is doing this if they don’t love it as a career server,” said Smith. “We know we can make a great commission.”