May 5, 2021
To the Members of the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Committee:
I’m writing in opposition to SB 137, the bill that would freeze the tipped minimum wage at $3.27, in the event of an increase in the federal minimum wage.
I worked in the food service industry for 20 years. I’ve been a server, a bartender, and a line cook. I suspect that most of the members of the committee have little experience in working for tips.
You will hear testimony from restaurant owners who are crying poverty. You will hear testimony from the lobbyists who represent the restaurant industry. You’ll get a picture of posh, candlelit dining rooms, with tuxedo clad servers, deftly presenting gorgeously arranged plates, and serving expensive bottles of wine.
You won’t be reminded that there are breakfast servers who work harder than anyone, for tiny tips. You won’t be encouraged to think about the servers in diners – not the trendy diners – but the old school, greasy spoons, where the tips are not at all the same as those given in the posh candlelit dining rooms.
You also won’t hear about wait staff being overscheduled on nights that are supposed to be busy, so that one can hang around for a few hours without ever waiting on a table, “just in case it gets busy.”
Just imagine for a moment, what your job might be like if you had to rely on tips. The restaurant business is the only industry where owners get to subcontract the wages of a big portion of their staff to the whims of the public.
New Hampshire’s tipped minimum wage is already lower than the tipped minimum in our neighboring states. In Maine the tipped minimum wage is $6.00 per hour. In Vermont it is $5.88. In Massachusetts, it is $5.55.
This bid to freeze an already terrible wage is coming at a time when restaurants are having a hard time getting help. It’s not because, as some would have us believe, that people are scoring big by collecting unemployment. It’s because a lot workers aren’t willing to risk their lives during a pandemic for substandard wages.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the fact that this bill is sponsored by multimillionaire State Senator Jeb Bradley who has never worked for tips in his life. Senator Bradley earned his money in the old fashioned way – he inherited it. I don’t begrudge him his status in the lucky sperm club. I do, however, bitterly resent a wealthy man trying to curry favor with the restaurant lobby by shafting the workers.
Please vote to ITL SB 137.