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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Restaurant Guy David Meinert Urges Staff to Lobby for Tip Deduction from $15 Wage or "Tips Will Probably Go Away" and Overall Wages Will Drop

Posted by on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Seattle restaurateur David Meinert is behind a campaign to convince restaurant workers that "tips will probably go away" if the city passes a base wage of $15 an hour for all employees, according to a letter sent by Meinert to fellow business owners and leaked to The Stranger. Meinert's letter urges his colleagues to distribute the memo to staff, warning employees that overall wages will drop and encouraging them to write letters—based on a sample letter from Meinert—to be published The Stranger and Seattle Times unless a proposed $15 law factors tips into the total wage.

Meinert—co-owner of Lost Lake Cafe, 5 Point Cafe, Big Mario's Pizza, the Comet Tavern, and other businesses catering to Seattle's hipster set—argues for a policy that would count an employee's tips as part of their total $15-an-hour wage (in contrast to workers' group 15 Now that opposes the proposal). If implemented, business owners like Meinert could continue paying the current $9.32 minimum wage to many tipped employees, by allowing $5.32 in tips per hour to make up the difference to reach total compensation of $15 an hour.

This is also the position of major corporate lobbies. As I reported yesterday, a new group led by large companies and business associations called OneSeattle will advocate for the same policy by involving sympathy-garnering small business owners, according to a en e-mail leaked to The Stranger by someone who attended the group's meeting. The e-mail also outlined plans for a march by waitstaff in favor of the tip deduction based on the claim that, otherwise, customers would stop tipping and overall wages will drop. (He cites no evidence to support this claim and I couldn't find any either.)

A source, who asked to remain anonymous, forwarded this e-mail that they said came from Meinert:

Hey all - Sawant and $15Now are on the attack to keep tips out of total compensation in the minimum wage fight. We need servers to come out now and support tipping. Can you collect emails I can take to the Mayor and his task force, and possibly publish in the Times or Stranger? Need them asap.

Let your servers know that if tips aren't counted as part of the minimum wage, tips will probably go away, and a service charge will be implemented which would have sales tax taken out and would have to be used to pay for the wage increases. It's most likely that no one would ever make over $20-$25 per hour, if even that. Here's the basics when asking people to send emails to me

I am a server or bartender and make a good income from working a tipped job

raising my minimum wage to $15 per hour in a way that results in losing my tipped income would be devastating as I would make far less money

if we raise the minimum wage to $15, tips have to be counted as part of the wage.

contrary to what some council members are saying, I like my job, and making tips is not keeping me in poverty, in fact just the opposite.

tell their personal story

I suggest passing this on to staff. We will send these to city council and the mayor. If anyone wants it to remain private or anonymous they can let me know and it will.

I sent Meinert an e-mail asking if he had distributed the message to his staff. He replied with a simple, "No." I followed up: Had he send this e-mail to anyone else? Yes, he confirmed. Here's Meinert's reply:

It looks like one of the emails I exchanged with a group of small business owners discussing how we address the concerns of our servers who are asking about total compensation and tipping. As far as I know this didn’t go out to staff. However, there are similar emails going around from owners, managers and staffs of various businesses discussing this issue.

Many servers have of course read the debate going on about total comp and are concerned, especially when they read $15Now folks encouraging the end to tipping, and have had many questions. Owners have responded with with general email replies, and servers have responded by holding several meetings trying to figure out what is going on. I have not been involved in those meetings. Though I have encouraged some of my servers to write to council and the mayor if they are concerned, and to get involved in the debate.

I would expect you’ll start seeing more servers getting involved in this discussion, as many are concerned about the outcomes.

Indeed, it seems to be working: A guest piece in this week's paper by a server claims "most servers, bartenders, busers, and even kitchen staff in Seattle will take a large cut to their income" if we don't approve the tip deduction law backed by Meinert.

Again, there is no evidence—that I could find—to support this speculation.

 

Comments (139) RSS

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Rev. Syung Myung Me 1
That just seems dumb to me. Why wouldn't they just boost up the prices of the food a skosh -- doing the "service charge" thing just seems like a petty way to punish the employees. Otherwise, people'd continue to tip, and... well, honestly, I think they might in the event of the service charge anyway.
Posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me http://kittysneezes.com on April 9, 2014 at 12:52 PM · Report this
2
What a crock of bs by Meinert... trying to convince his staff through fear-mongering that their livelihoods are at stake. It's the lowest to use one's position of power to ask folks to work against their own interests. Does any rational person think that raising the minimum wage to $15 will stop tipping? Does any rational person think by raising the minimum to $15 will decrease the take-home pay of restaurant workers? Shame on you Meinert!
Posted by stu ungar on April 9, 2014 at 12:55 PM · Report this
3
Isn't tipping a form of free speech by customers?
Posted by Julian in Seattle on April 9, 2014 at 12:55 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 4
Boycott places "catering to Seattle's hipster set." Boycott restaurants for that matter. Get Slog to repost all of Goldie's tips on growing one's own vegetables. Make friends with the earth. Leave this red tape for the hipster set. Be a hippie instead.
Posted by dnt trust me on April 9, 2014 at 12:55 PM · Report this
AlaskanWayViaducks 5
As Dominic says, there is nothing in any proposed $15 policy that contains any language that would outlaw, discourage, or other inhibit tipping.

We already have no tip credit in this state, and we already have a higher than average minimum wage. And yet tipping still occurs. I have yet to see any credible argument that an increase to $15 would somehow change that.

The bottom line is that any suggestion that tips will somehow go away unless restaurant owners are given a tip credit is pure fear mongering.
Posted by AlaskanWayViaducks on April 9, 2014 at 12:57 PM · Report this
6
Note that Meinert doesn't want a tip credit, he wants total compensation. Tip credit might get someplace, but total compensation? Please. That's just a way of keeping the real minimum wage down around $12, because he already has to pay for health insurance. Also, isn't he going to get to have the phase in because he's a small business?
Posted by Hanoumatoi on April 9, 2014 at 12:58 PM · Report this
7
I'd be willing to listen to Meinert if he were proposing some tip credit plan that did not include baristas, nail techs, bussers and other tipped employees who don't end up making $30+ an hour with tips. Those are the employees who will truly suffer under the tip credit/penalty plan.
Posted by Luckier on April 9, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Collin 8
As we get closer and closer to a final resolution on this, it wouldn't surprise me if you started hearing restaurants talking about flat out forbidding tipping in their establishments to try to scare waitstaff.
Posted by Collin on April 9, 2014 at 1:01 PM · Report this
CC-Rob 9
Shame on people like Meinhert who use misinformation as a means of keeping more money for themselves at the expense of his workers - the people who really need it.

This type of behavior discourages me from wanting to give him and his establishments my hard earned money.
Posted by CC-Rob on April 9, 2014 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 10
Rich people want to get richer subsidized by "tip credits" used to pad their underpaying Anericans

Just make it a flat $16 an hour with zero exemptions
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 9, 2014 at 1:06 PM · Report this
11
I don't even get it. Servers/bartenders that are working at decent places are already making over $15 an hour. So why does their base pay need to be raised to that amount? Someone explain to me. Seems like everyone is getting hung up on this for some reason.
Posted by Chester Copperpot on April 9, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 12
@3,

No. A business has the right to curtail your "free speech" within its walls.
Posted by keshmeshi on April 9, 2014 at 1:21 PM · Report this
13
Under current policy, all the tips go to front of house staff. Cooks and dishwashers get none of it. Simply raising the minimum wage does nothing to address this horrible disparity.

My remedy is to go European, institute a service charge of 18% or so, and management uses the additional income to raise everyone's hourly wage to $15 or more. Goal being to distribute "tip" income fairly to all labor that contributes to the meal; don't reserve it just for the final hands at the table.

OK, maybe some price increases might still be necessary, but a sign in the window explaining the new system would be welcomed by customers, at least this one.
Posted by Citizen R on April 9, 2014 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Collin 14
@11 - If you're a server at the Dahlia Lounge or the Met, you're probably right, but not everyone works in those restaurants. The problem is that when tip credits or "total compensation" programs have been implemented across the country it's created a mushy area where wage theft occurs, and enforcement officials are often too understaffed to root out problem employers. It essentially makes it too easy for slimy managers and owners to screw over their staff.

Issues of mandatory "tipping out" of employees like bussers and kitchen staff along with tip pooling muddy the waters further. Then there's the issue of what qualifies as a "tipped employee." If you put a tip jar on the counter, like a barista or someone who works at a sandwich counter, does that qualify you to have your wages cut?
Posted by Collin on April 9, 2014 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 15
@12 I don't think a business can stop you from legally tipping. All they can do is ask you to leave or insist that the staff refuse to take the tip.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://twitter.com/joeszi on April 9, 2014 at 1:24 PM · Report this
16
@11 Because tips aren't wages. "Everybody is hung up on" equating the two. Just like businesses who want to lump health care and sick days into hourly wages in order to reduce their payroll; it's a red herring.

I tip for service. I tip if the food is expensive, I tip if the food is cheap. The tip doesn't belong to the owner; it belongs to the staff. (And I don't tip people who work behind counters unless I have a special order).

Now, if we want to set a different minimum wage for tipped and untipped employees, the way a lot of minimum wage laws are, let's have that discussion honestly. You want to pay servers 10/hour plus tips? Let's discuss it.
Posted by unpaid reader on April 9, 2014 at 1:26 PM · Report this
17
Im confused by the Stranger's coverage of this issue... Are restaurant servers and bar tenders and baristas the only minimum wage employees in Seattle? It seems to me we are getting awfully hung up on the trickiness of how this will work for a small sub-set of of people.

Also, its pretty fucking obvious that the only way tips will just magically disappear is if these restaurant owners no longer allow them. The general public will still tip their 15/hour servers and bar tenders and Meinert fucking knows that.
Posted by longball on April 9, 2014 at 1:30 PM · Report this
18
This confirms my suspicious about the "anonymous" female server who The Stranger published regarding tip credit. The problem with people like Meinert is that they take the time to learn about the issues enough to manipulate them to their own benefit. They become a "voice" in their community and unfortunately, for whatever reasons, a lot of folks take people like him at face value.
Posted by Yeah You on April 9, 2014 at 1:30 PM · Report this
19
I know that 15Now is sexy and all but I sure wish you would devote a little more time to the current Transit vote. That seems to have gotten lost in the MW wash. I am pretty worried about this one.

Please remember to vote everyone! Thank you.
Posted by Senor Guy on April 9, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Collin 20
@12 - They can't stop you in the sense that they don't have "tip bouncers" to cram the money back in your pocket when you leave. They can mandate their staff refuse to take money or face termination, and state if you leave a tip on the table, it goes to the house, not the staff.
Posted by Collin on April 9, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
meanie 21
@16 the IRS disagrees. According to the Government tips are wages, asserting that they aren't even for the sake of conversation is false.
Posted by meanie http://www.spicealley.net on April 9, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this
guerre 22
@17 How many hotels, temp agencies, retail stores, etc advertise in The Stranger?
Posted by guerre on April 9, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
sperifera 23
I love how Meinert is trying to pull in the servers a la Stockholm Syndrome. OK, maybe love is the wrong word...
Posted by sperifera on April 9, 2014 at 1:40 PM · Report this
24
@22- thank you for clearing up my confusion.
Posted by longball on April 9, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Collin 25
@21 - Noooo. The IRS determines tips to be taxable earned income, which is all the IRS cares about. They take no stance on whether it's a wage or not.

A wage is the money that is received either monthly, weekly, daily, by the hour, etc., and wages are income. Tips are also income, but, by definition, they are not wages; they are a variable gratuity.
Posted by Collin on April 9, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
26
@23 - yeah that paternal instinct would have made him a very benevolent slave owner.
Posted by longball on April 9, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
Baconcat 27
This is getting ridiculous. Threatening employees with retaliation in the form of restricting tips (given voluntarily by customers) and reduced wages unless they join in the fight against their own fundamental needs is petty and the lowest form of anti-worker activism. Even worse is the use of Target/Walmart style direct lobbying of workers to make them question their own demands while implying their jobs and livelihoods are imperiled.
Posted by Baconcat on April 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 28
Today I tip 15% regardless, 20% for good service, more for outstanding service.

In a $15/hour world I’ll only tip on outstanding service.
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on April 9, 2014 at 1:45 PM · Report this
DOUG. 29
The 5 Point needs to change its sign to "WE CHEAT TOURISTS-N-DRUNKS SINCE 1929. AND THE REST OF THE PUBLIC SINCE 2009."
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on April 9, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
fletc3her 30
It's going to get ugly before it gets better. The list of restaurants I am no longer interested in dining at keeps getting longer and longer.
Posted by fletc3her on April 9, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
fletc3her 31
@22 Quite a few?
Posted by fletc3her on April 9, 2014 at 1:53 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 32
Frankly… I can’t remember the last time I sat down to a dinner and tipped less than $15 for every hour I sat at that table. Usually it’s closer to $25/hour in tips when I dine out. That’s before wages.

Seems to me many waiters (probably most really good waiters) are already pulling down $15 an hour or more in total compensation, the pragmatic thing to do would be to acknowledge that and address the poor bastard doing my landscaping for minimum wage instead. (Of course he’s an illegal alien and paid his pittance under the table anyway so it won’t much matter).
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on April 9, 2014 at 1:56 PM · Report this
fletc3her 33
Maybe we should stop tipping now and only start tipping again when wages go up to $15/hour.
Posted by fletc3her on April 9, 2014 at 1:58 PM · Report this
AlaskanWayViaducks 34
@21 The IRS also counts frequent flier miles earned based on work travel as taxable income. Would you consider those wages?
Posted by AlaskanWayViaducks on April 9, 2014 at 1:59 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 35
One place to look for evidence here in Washington, in 1989, when I-518 went into effect, eliminating the tip penalty and ensuring tipped workers make the same base wage as everybody else. It's been this way in Washington for 26 years.

Did tipping decline? No.

Did most establishments eliminate tipping? No.

Did ANY establishments eliminate tipping? No.

Did tipped workers make less after I-518 increase their base wage by 85% in one swoop? No.

Do tipped workers in Washington make less than those in states where the tipped wage is only $2.13/hr? No.

If you're a Washington waiter or bartender, do you dream of moving to Idaho or Oklahoma or Texas so that you can enjoy a base wage of $2.13/hr and let those fat, fat tips roll in? Do you, in fact? No.

Ask any other tipped workers. Is it better in states where there's a separate tipped wage? Was it better before 1989? Don't ask Dave Meinert. He's protecting his empire. He's carrying water for a corporate monstrosity actually called Yum! Brands [sic]. Dang, he and his co-owners have like 9 restaurants. How is that not "corporate"?

Make a side by side comparison. The experiment has been done in the real world and we can all see the results.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 9, 2014 at 2:01 PM · Report this
trstr 36
"... a service charge will be implemented which would have sales tax taken out and would have to be used to pay for the wage increases."

Am I reading this right that Meinert is saying that he'd add a service charge on each bill to pay for the minimum wage increase, a la the folks who tried to put a service charge to pay for the city's recent sick leave legislation? Because if so, that's fuuucked.
Posted by trstr on April 9, 2014 at 2:04 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 37
I wonder how many angry emails Tim Keck has received over this post.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://twitter.com/joeszi on April 9, 2014 at 2:10 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 38
@15,

Yes, that's my point. Either way, it's not a free speech issue. A business doesn't have to suffer your "free speech" if it doesn't want to. By all means, leave a tip at the table, but the business isn't curtailing your rights if it enforces a policy that the server can't accept the tip, if the business instead donates your tip to charity, or if the business declines to serve you again in the future.

#3 is operating under the typical, asinine American assumption that "free speech" means you can do/say whatever you want, and no one can stop you. Exhibit A: any right-wing commenter on any left-wing blog who whines about being "censored".
Posted by keshmeshi on April 9, 2014 at 2:12 PM · Report this
AlaskanWayViaducks 39
@35 Well said!
Posted by AlaskanWayViaducks on April 9, 2014 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 40
The other thing I want to know is how does the city of Seattle keep track of how much each tipped worker makes each shift and makes sure that they're always getting at least $15 per hour. What documentation does a waiter produce to prove that they didn't make $15 and need their employer to make up the difference? Who checks up to make sure employers aren't cheating?

It's hard enough to enforce wage theft with the existing system, but at least it's simple and uniform. Something the police and city attorney can handle. Yeah, I know they need to do a lot better. But this whole tip thing is so much more complicated, it's going to require paying specialist bureaucrats to collect all kinds of data, and do all kinds of audits.

And that's just tips. Don't forget, we need a whole other system to measure the value of health insurance. And vacation. And every little perk the employer dreams up.

Who is going to pay for this whole new Seattle government bureaucracy? Is the chamber of commerce proposing a new tax to finance this? Or what?

I hope they're not suggesting we all just trust Dave Meinert to be fair and square with each worker. And how is Dave going to do that, anyway? Does he hire another accountant to track all these tips and benefits and portion out a varying hourly wage to keep everyone at $15 or more? Is Dave going to cheerfully pay this accountant to spend however many hours it takes to give each worker their due? Or is he going to tell the guy to fudge it, make an "estimate" that errs on the side of the bottom line?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 9, 2014 at 2:17 PM · Report this
41
@35, I agree with all of your points. However, I'm still hung up on where a dishwasher gets $15/hr and no tips and a waiter gets $15/hr plus tips. At any decent restaurant, I'd take $10/hr plus tips over $15/hr any day. Hell, even buffet type restaurant 'waiters' (really glorified busboys) get more than $5/hr in tips.
Posted by randoma on April 9, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
42
@ 35 - Stop looking at the big picture and presenting reasonable facts. The Stranger is framing the terms of this debate and those terms are clearly limited to anecdotal evidence (offered by their drinking buddies), hypothetical scare mongering and outright lies.
Posted by longball on April 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM · Report this
43
Ask 10 people if they think investing in a restaurant is a good idea, and 9 out of 10 will say no, its just too risky. But for some reason when you talk about minimum wage everyone thinks restaurants are rolling in money. I don't get it.

If this initiative goes through without a tip credit, the restaurant business will have to fundamentally restructure. Thats what happens when half the staff wages go up by 60%. Price increases don't always equal revenue increases. Dave Meinert is smart enough to know this, and honest enough to warn his staff that the current model could change. A $15 wage and higher prices WILL change the way many people tip. Maybe the sky isn't falling, but if I was a server who made 75% of my income from tips I would take a long look at this.

And seriously, calling Dave out just shows how irresponsible Dominic is. Every restaurant owner in the city is having candid conversations with their employees right now. Both sides are talking, and the tipped employees are finally getting involved.

Posted by Tim Baker on April 9, 2014 at 2:25 PM · Report this
44
@41 - If a side effect of 15/hour is that some waiters end up making a very good earning, thats just something i think we'll all be able to deal with. right?
Posted by longball on April 9, 2014 at 2:25 PM · Report this
45
Meinert's notion is ridiculous. Everyone's costs are going up but guess what? More people can eat at his restaurants.

Seriously, Stranger, do you need to let every one of your advertisers have a free platform to trot out their inner John Birch?
Posted by Why are there cars? on April 9, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this
46
Tips, Commissions and Bonuses and are all real money and go toward ones living expenses no matter the source. Health Care is mandated by law, so if you get it at work, that is a real benefit and has the same value as cash.
If the goal of $15 NOW is to guarantee $15 an hour for everyone, $15 NOW should have no problem with including verifiable income of all types, no matter the source. Get the people the money.
David Meinert agrees that folks should get at least $15, you would think that would make him a friend of the movement instead of a person to attack. But hey, politics is not logical….
POLICY has impacts, intended and unintended. If there is no recognition of this “other” massive piece of income to front of house works, the TIPPING model will change for sure. Weather that is a function of customers feeling they no longer have to tip as much since the min wage is $15 an hour, and/or it is a function of restaurant owners just saying fuck it, let’s just go to the Euro-model and include it in the price. Top line or bottom line price it won’t matter it will still be there and going out to eat will be expensive and people will do it less.
Either way, servers and bartenders will make less overall money in my opinion. Ask a bartender if he would rather work a catering gig with a no host bar or normal bar, and you will find out the answer? Or ask a European server for that matter if they would rather have it there way or ours for their persona income purposes.
When servers and bartenders are asking all of us bar and restaurant owners what we think will happen if this goes through without TIPS being Counted as Wages, they only thing to tell them is the Truth. The Truth is that the TIPPING Model will change forever and that will not be good for their own incomes. Us greedy restaurant owners will figure out a solution….
David is an easy target, so am I for that matter, I live in Queen Anne at an $800K, I’ll save you having to look it up. But we are not the enemy here. We think people should make more money and have a guaranteed $15/hr in the foreseeable future. Having said that there is no reason to blow up the entire TIPPING MODEL and hurt bartenders and servers’ income in the process. And if having full disclosure to the people this will affect the most (servers and bartenders), I’m guilty along with every other restaurant owner (who is also not the enemy).
Nick Licata is right, this TIPPING thing, is the only thing that will drive people away from the overall increase in wages movement and we may end up with nothing.
If you are for higher wages, what do you really care where those wages come from so long as they are accounted and verified. Unless you have a completely other agenda?
You would think the Republicans do this to us on purpose, but it really friend fighting friend here. Such a shame. Marcus Charles, The Crocodile and Local 360
More...
Posted by mcharles on April 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Report this
47
So, is The Stranger going to stop slobbering all over Dave Meinert every time he opens a new restaurant now? Just wondering. I've always thought he was full of BS and I don't understand why he's treated like some hipster mogul around here. He's just another rich a**hole looking to make more money off his workers by scaring them into supporting a law that hurts them. Also, what a scumbag for using tips that are meant for his employees as a negotiating tactic to scare them. I'm never going to one of his restaurants again and I hope you won't either. This guy has gotten waaaaayyyy to much good press over the years and it's time that ends.
Posted by QRRR on April 9, 2014 at 2:29 PM · Report this
48
Ask 10 people if they think investing in a restaurant is a good idea, and 9 out of 10 will say no, its just too risky. But for some reason when you talk about minimum wage everyone thinks restaurants are rolling in money. I don't get it.

If this initiative goes through without a tip credit, the restaurant business will have to fundamentally restructure. Thats what happens when half the staff wages go up by 60%. Price increases don't always equal revenue increases. Dave Meinert is smart enough to know this, and honest enough to warn his staff that the current model could change. A $15 wage and higher prices WILL change the way many people tip. Maybe the sky isn't falling, but if I was a server who made 75% of my income from tips I would take a long look at this.

And seriously, calling Dave out just shows how irresponsible Dominic is. Every restaurant owner in the city is having candid conversations with their employees right now. Both sides are talking, and the tipped employees are finally getting involved.
Posted by Tim Baker on April 9, 2014 at 2:30 PM · Report this
seatackled 49
Not surprising how evasive he was with his email replies. Did he think there would be no follow-up?
Posted by seatackled on April 9, 2014 at 2:34 PM · Report this
51
http://horsesass.org/five-proposals-for-…
Bring Goldy back!!!

I really hope none of Meinert's employees falls for his bs.
Posted by stu ungar on April 9, 2014 at 2:57 PM · Report this
52
@25 Tips are also income, but, by definition, they are not wages; they are a variable gratuity.

? You have to pay taxes, medicare, social security withholding, and tell the IRS they're wages. ? Maybe posters should identify if they've ever worked a tipped income job before they blather.

http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc761.html
When you receive the tip report from your employee, use it to figure the amount of social security, Medicare, and income taxes to withhold for the pay period on both wages and reported tips. You are responsible for paying the employer's portion of the social security and Medicare taxes. You must collect the employee's portion of the social security and Medicare taxes and the federal income taxes.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1244.pdf
You must include all tips, including tips not reported to your employer, as wages on your income tax return.
Your employer must withhold income, social security, and Medicare (or railroad retirement) taxes on tips you report. Your employer usually deducts the withholding due on tips from your
regular wages.
Posted by ChefJoe on April 9, 2014 at 2:58 PM · Report this
53
I don't understand this: If you're making $15 an hour, there's not gonna to be much need for tips, unless you're averaging about $20 - $40 a day getting them! Not the greatest money, but fairly livable if you're single and have no kids.
Posted by gman5541 on April 9, 2014 at 3:03 PM · Report this
54
Read the comments in this thread, clearly this is going to change tipping. Most servers and bartenders make $20 or more off tips alone, whether they work in dive bars or high end restaurants. I guess Dave was right to warn his staff.
Posted by Tim Baker on April 9, 2014 at 3:15 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 55
@40

For the 50th time, how come there wasn't a fundamental restructure of restaurants in 1989 when the same tipped workers wages increased by, not 60%, but 85%? Not only did I-518 increase the wages of non-tipped workers, it brought the tipped wage to parity with everyone else.

And nothing happened!

Did it? It's not ancient history. It's 1989. Here. In Washington. I'm not asking you to relate this to the Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece. We're comparing Washington restaurants now with Washington restaurants 26 years ago. Or compare Washington restaurants right now with Texas restaurants night now, or New Mexico restaurants right now.

Believe it or not, I'd change my mind on the tip wage if somebody would just show me some evidence that A is better than B. I think the way things have been in Washington for the last 26 years is better. If it's not better in Washington, show me.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 9, 2014 at 3:16 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 57
At today's Council hearings the restaurants admitted they would hire more English-speaking American citizens

Which is who votes in Seattle
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 58
@54

That's a very compelling claim. Most bartenders and waiters make over $20/hr in tips alone. Do you have proof of this? Where is your data coming from?

The Seattle Times says 40% of minimum wage workers are at the Federal poverty line or below. How can 4 in 10 be in poverty, yet, you claim, more than half of tipped workers are making over $20/hr. That's a huge spread. It's possible, I guess, but it's an extraordinary claim. Could it be there are many, many tipped workers not lucky enough to be at a Tom Douglas rich guy hangout? I suspect there are a great many of the 100,000 minimum wage workers in Seattle who are not at five star restaurants.

As with what I tried to ask above @43, where is your data coming from? If you had evidence of your claims, it would be enough to change my mind. A lot of restauranteurs are getting caught lying here in the Stranger. So we're kind of wary of unverifiable claims.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 9, 2014 at 3:40 PM · Report this
emor 59
If I've learned anything from slog in the last couple weeks, it's that I really don't like Dave Meinert.
Posted by emor on April 9, 2014 at 3:52 PM · Report this
61
Hey, do you support equal pay for equal work, regardless of race or gender? Then tip based income should be illegal. Right now, people who earn from tips have NONE of the labor protections that apply to normal wages and salary. Customers can, and do, tip less based on race and gender. It's a barbaric system, not to mention a passive aggressive way to mess with someone's livelihood because they put too much ice in your water, or whatever. Just put a 15% service charge on restaurant tab and pay workers through a proper wage system. Don't like the service? Hey, howabout telling the manager what you didn't like instead of stealing out of a waiter's pocket.
Posted by FauxfauxAlex on April 9, 2014 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Collin 62
@52 - Did you not read the first part of my post?

Both wages and tips fall under the broad category of "taxable earned income", which also covers salaries, union strike benefits, and long-term disability benefits. That does NOT mean that wages are the same as tips. Asking how the IRS defines wages vs. tips is a red herring.

Jeebus.
Posted by Collin on April 9, 2014 at 4:01 PM · Report this
63
I have direct experience managing dozens of independent restaurants in Seattle. I have looked at the raw information in payroll. Here is how it works:

Fine dining
20 customers a night, $50 per guest, sales $1,000, 20% tip = $200, tip out about $40 to support staff, take home $160 for 6 1/2 hours worked = $25 per hour

Casual
40 customers a night, $25 per guest, sales $1,000, 20% tip = $200, tip out about $40 to support staff, take home $160 for 6 1/2 hours worked = $25 per hour

These are pretty conservative numbers but its a good place to start. It tends to work about the same regardless of where you work. Of course there are obviously many outliers. Lunch jobs usually pay less, and of course if its a slow place... But don't take my word for it, pay attention next time you are in a restaurant, watch your server or bartender, count their tables or barstools, look at your tip, do the math
Posted by Tim Baker on April 9, 2014 at 4:05 PM · Report this
64
Please...Meinert is not saying that servers will only make the base minimum wage. What he is saying is that the total distributable service charge after covering the expenses for the increase in the minimum wage will overall be less than they are making today. So yes, in effect "tipping" goes away but is replaced by a service charge that will net out a lot less to all servers and bartenders. The easy remedy is a tip credit but that would just be too easy. Seems like Seattle likes to be on the leading edge of fucking things up..
Posted by Moresanity on April 9, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
DOUG. 65
@46: I haven't been to Local 360 since you endorsed and helped fund Rob McKenna's run for governor in 2012. Mindless advocacy has its consequences, and is sometimes bad for business. Be sure to let your staff know that.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on April 9, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
COMTE 66
Dear @63:

Your personal anecdotal experience and back-of-a-napkin calculations do not trump large amounts of statistical data (cit ref @58, for example), so your "pretty conservative numbers" aren't worth squat.

Now, when you've had a chance to compare notes with several tens of thousands of low-wage hotel maids, contract laborers, fast-food servers, child-care and home health care aides, parking lot attendants, security guards, landscapers, etc., etc. (none of whom generaly earn tip income, BTW), THEN get back to us with your "expertise" on Minimum Wage employment issues, m'kay?
Posted by COMTE on April 9, 2014 at 4:18 PM · Report this
67
@Tim Baker: Describing the conversation Dave is having with his servers as "candid" is bullshit. That was the entire point of this post. Also, you keep explaining why we should have a tip credit, and then saying "so give us total compensation." If the tipped servers are really making so much, why do you need total compensation instead of just a tip credit? You guys are disingenuous at best, lying at worst, and I'm leaning towards lying.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on April 9, 2014 at 4:20 PM · Report this
68
servers in seattle are paid over four times more than servers in texas, yet seattle servers are still tipped. so if servers in seattle are paid six times more than servers in texas, all the sudden people are going to stop tipping? right. that makes A LOT of sense.
Posted by mrjoe on April 9, 2014 at 4:44 PM · Report this
69
Restaurants run on thin profit margins. Most longtime restaurant workers, like myself, know of a former employer who is no longer in business. When you hear us argue against across the board, unconditional increase of minimum wage it is not because we are being manipulated. It is because we are concerned about the economic health of our chosen career.
Posted by whowhatwhowhat on April 9, 2014 at 4:51 PM · Report this
fletc3her 70
@69 Restaurants are going to go out of business anyway. Read the Stranger. Restaurants close every month.

The restaurant industry is not going to go away because the minimum wage rises.
Posted by fletc3her on April 9, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
71
I'm just a single person, but if restaurant prices go up ~20% because of a 60% increase in wage, I will probably cook and drink at home a lot more and tip $1-3 instead of 15-18%. No idea what the effects will be on a large scale.
Posted by pooja614 on April 9, 2014 at 5:34 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 72
@69

So do restaurants stay in business longer in places where the tipped wage is only $2.13 per hour? Because if they did, that would be a compelling statistical argument.

Saying, "a lot" of restaurants have gone out of business doesn't say much one way or the other.

But once again, if anybody were to produce actual data showing that conditions are better -- for workers, for employers, for anybody -- in places with a tipped wage vs places like Washington with no tipped wage, then you'd have some meat in that sandwich. Some beef in your burger. Or, less metaphorically, some argument in your non-argument.

I could feel good supporting a tip penalty if somebody could back it up with facts.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 9, 2014 at 5:34 PM · Report this
73
@62, so then what's your definition of a tip vs a wage when it's an employee who may be in a tipped wage position, like a server ?
Posted by ChefJoe on April 9, 2014 at 5:42 PM · Report this
74
@58 said, "The Seattle Times says 40% of minimum wage workers are at the Federal poverty line or below. How can 4 in 10 be in poverty, yet, you claim, more than half of tipped workers are making over $20/hr."

What percentage of minimum wage workers are tipped workers? 'cause I suspect that the vast majority are not. Oh look. Your article says:

"A quarter of Seattle residents who make minimum wage work in the accommodation and food-services industry"

So, less than 25%.

Also, who says that those tipped workers are getting 40 hours a week?
Posted by randoma on April 9, 2014 at 5:42 PM · Report this
75
#55- You're right- it was only 1988 when the large minimum wage increase passed. If only someone had taken the time to research the results...oh wait!

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/opinionnw/…

"More than 100,000 employees got wage increases in 1989 and 1990 because of the rise in Washington’s legal minimum. Over two years, employers reported laying off 11,700 workers “as a result of the minimum wage increases.” Employees reported about the same number."

So 100,000 people got laid off and 11,700 lost their jobs, most of those being in the bar and restaurant industry. Then, when employers started hiring people back, they tended to hire people that were older. Weird...it's almost like the concerns we keep talking about regarding bar and restaurant folks losing their jobs and youth unemployment going up MIGHT ACTUALLY BE REAL!

And before anyone wants to claim some pro-business bias on the part of the researcher, the UW Northwest Policy Center was a part of the Evans School of Public Policy, the exact same group of folks that published the study on the current state of the minimum wage upon request of the city.
Posted by RS2 on April 9, 2014 at 5:43 PM · Report this
76
Feel Good Goldy..Feel Good and support it. There is your first Carve out..Whats next "training wage" for teens(12months)..Then a 3 year phase in. Feels good doesnt it!! your starting to see the light..
Posted by A real live employer on April 9, 2014 at 5:45 PM · Report this
77
@46. Great breakdown. This seems very clear.

“Tips, Commissions and Bonuses are all real money and go toward ones living expenses no matter the source. . . . If the goal of $15 NOW is to guarantee $15 an hour for everyone, $15 NOW should have no problem with including verifiable income of all types, no matter the source. Get the people the money. . . . If you are for higher wages, what do you really care where those wages come from so long as they are accounted and verified.”

If the only answer is that it will be an enforcement issue, not to worry, there will be a new Seattle Department of Labor to ensure compliance of this new ordinance. Put your efforts there and be done with this debate. If you think it will be impossible to protect workers against wage theft, leave the tipped workers at the existing state minimum wage and be done with this debate.

Tipped workers in Seattle are not low wage workers.
Posted by Seattle91 on April 9, 2014 at 5:59 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 78
What utter bullshit. Instituting a $15 minimum wage will have almost no effect at all on tips. Tipping is an ingrained part of our culture, and of the culture in much of the world. If we raise the minimum wage, the world will not stop turning, and people will not stop tipping.

I have been somewhat sceptical, but willing to listen to Dave Meinert's arguments. I do understand that it will be harder for small businesses to deal with a large increase in labor cost. But his credibility is completely in the toilet if he is resorting to ridiculously absurd scare tactics to intimidate his employees. I'm done listening to his bullshit.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 9, 2014 at 6:30 PM · Report this
79
@75, First of all, your statement: "So 100,000 people got laid off and 11,700 lost their jobs, most of those being in the bar and restaurant industry." is utterly incorrect. The referenced study says 100,000 people got a pay increase and 11,700 got laid off. Reading comprehension is a good skill.

That said, I can't seem to find the actual text of this study anywhere. Nor is there any information on what percentage of the workforce was laid off in the prior years, or years later. See - if you could show that in 1988, 0 people got laid off, and then in 1990 and 1991 there were 6,000 people laid off per year, and then in 1992, 0 people got laid off, you'd have more of an argument.
Posted by randoma on April 9, 2014 at 7:10 PM · Report this
80
Meinert is now cribbing his behavior straight from the Old School Union-Busting Playbook: sow fear/uncertainty/doubt among employees, whose livelihoods you implicitly or explicitly threaten, then "encourage" them to publicly concur with your version of the facts.

At least he's showing his true colors unabashedly.
Posted by d.p. on April 9, 2014 at 7:23 PM · Report this
81
@65/Doug, Funny you accuse me of mindless advocacy when I actually use logic for my positions which are probably more similar to yours than you would like to admit. How's Inslee doing on Education in our State... About the same as the other D's who preceded him for the 20+years backed by labor only dollars... And I vote D about 90% of the time... Ideological purity at the sake of logic and pragmatism makes for a mindless society in my view point. Glad you don't patronage my places. Best of luck with your endeavors.
Posted by mcharles on April 9, 2014 at 7:56 PM · Report this
pfffter 82
Dave Meinert, the newest recipient of the Seattle's Biggest Scumbag award.
Posted by pfffter on April 9, 2014 at 8:00 PM · Report this
benjaminismarried 83
What #61 said. I know it's different issue and not going to happen, but tipping is not a great way to pay people for most of their wage. I should know, I waited tables for 10 years. My favorite job was catering in hotel, we got a standard 20% and could just focus on our job. If occasionally a big group wanted to give a little extra great. Also, I have been to Japan and they seem to get along fine without any tipping.
Posted by benjaminismarried on April 9, 2014 at 8:31 PM · Report this
84
Thanks Dominic for not letting advertising dictating your articles about attention whore/greasy spoon owner Dave Meinert. If I hear another entity refer to this middle-aged white male as a "hipster" I'm going to pass out. That email is disgusting.
Posted by Daphne B on April 9, 2014 at 8:37 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 85
@76

You think I'm Goldy! That's cute. Derp.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 9, 2014 at 8:39 PM · Report this
DOUG. 86
@81: I read your "logic" here. It's nonsense.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on April 9, 2014 at 9:18 PM · Report this
87
Years ago, I worked in a state with a reduced minimum wage for tipped employees. That reduced wage applied to all hours in a specific job, but did not factor in whether a worker received enough tips to bring their total income up to above minimum wage. Any shift I worked included time before and after we opened for a meal, as it was a hotel dining room that was not open all day. Most of the hotel's guests were older wealthy people with meals included in the cost of their room. It was not unusual for me to work a 5 hour lunch shift, and only walk out with $6 in change for tips. Seriously, people would have what would have had a nice check if the meal was not included, and would throw less than a buck in change on the table.

Yeah, no fricking way I will ever support a minimum wage law that leaves workers to depend on the generosity of customers. Especially if the restaurant expects the staff to treat known cheap tippers with anything but open scorn and hostility. I find it funny how some restaurant owners think their profit margin is too slim, as they drive their nice shiny car home while their staff hopes Metro doesn't cut their bus. Yeah, I remember back when I was working in food service, right after the owner bought a shiny new Range Rover, employee shift meals suddenly went from included as part of our compensation, to a 40% discount off the menu price. Restaurant need cook, servers, and bartenders to operate; they often run best when the owner is there least.
Posted by Greenwood_Bob on April 9, 2014 at 9:33 PM · Report this
88
@48
And 9 out of 10 would be right. Which is why I dont really mind pouring a little more risk on your industry. There is no compelling data to suggest that there will actually be more risk, remember. But even if there was, I dont really mind. Worst case scenario, an already extremely risky and high failure rate industry see a little more risk, and maybe, more failure. Whatevs. Its not a shakeup of a stable, blue chip industry. The fact of the matter is that if you own a restaurant, its probably going to close sometime anyway. If you want to make a ton of money and had a stable life and not have to worry about risk, sell your restaurant and open something else.
Posted by JonCracolici on April 9, 2014 at 9:43 PM · Report this
89
@80
yep. Its an old playbook, but it still works sometimes.
Posted by JonCracolici on April 9, 2014 at 9:48 PM · Report this
90
"Again, there is no evidence—that I could find—to support this speculation." - Dominic Holden

You couldn't find it because you don't look for it.

Dave is right. If you had asked any restaurant/bar owners, you'd know this. Have you asked any restaurant or bar owners what they'd do if this went though, Dominic? No? Of course you haven't. You haven't because if you had, you'd be forced to either call all of us liars or be forced to admit that you're wrong. And, y'r not good at that - the former or latter.

The reality is that if this goes through, many restaurants will switch to a service charge, some of which will go to paying the new massive payroll expense, meaning that when there's a service charge on a tab, tips will UNQUESTIONABLY be fewer and far between(er). EVERYONE in restaurant industry management knows this.

Why don't you? Oh! Right! Because you don't ask anyone.

Christoper, Bethany - why is this guy still working for you? He does not have a whit of unbiased professionalism in, on or around him. Why not just hire a Teabagger next? Actually, he's the far-Lefty version of a Teabagger.
Posted by I'm Cool on April 9, 2014 at 9:57 PM · Report this
91
@90
So restaurant owners deciding to do something is somehow now an unavoidable consequence that must be mitigated by changing the law? What?! If they want to raise the prices, they should do it. "Not raising prices" but putting in a service charge is just a way to try to get the extra money they need out of their staffs' pockets instead of their customers. And that says something about the owners confidence in whether or not their business is providing a worthwhile service. Also, its scummy.
Posted by JonCracolici on April 9, 2014 at 10:12 PM · Report this
92
Dear @66, COMTE

Not listening to the personal experience of people who are directly impacted by this issue makes you a jerk.
Posted by M. Wells on April 9, 2014 at 10:17 PM · Report this
93
Also, Dominic, don't sweat it that you could find any evidence. No one here expects you to do any actual REPORTING.
Posted by M. Wells on April 9, 2014 at 10:20 PM · Report this
94
@17 The focus on tipped staff by the anti-$15 crowd is planned and strategic. They know it is the easiest way to muddle the waters about what is at stake. The more they muddy he waters in this area, the easier they believe it will be to muddle the waters in other areas as this debate moves forward. Already the really big Chamber money coming in to fight a $15 minimum wage is coming from businesses without tipped employs.
Posted by cracked on April 9, 2014 at 10:23 PM · Report this
trstr 95
@90: Then don't put a service charge on the fucking tab. Duh.

The only reason you want to do it is the same reason why some business owners got pissy and put a sick leave surcharge to their customers bills. You should ask them how well that worked for their restaurants.

And who the fuck trolls the comments section of a newspaper that they pulled their advertising from? That's kinda pathological.
Posted by trstr on April 9, 2014 at 10:25 PM · Report this
96
Everyone quotes the 1988 minimum wage increase, but that was to bring our state up to a national level. Currently, Washington has the highest minimum wage for tipped employees and we're talking about increasing it by 67%. This is a HUGE difference.

I have been a tipped employee for 14 years and I make a very good living at my career. Restaurants and bars cannot absorb this kind of minimum wage increase without having to restructure their model, which is a threat to our entire industry and the employees in it. The 15Now movement wants a minimum of $15/hr for everyone, this is great, but so many tipped employees are already making far more, and not including total pay is only hurting the restaurant and bar industry and its workers.
Posted by JimR on April 9, 2014 at 10:56 PM · Report this
97
@96, I'm sorry JimR, but I moved here years ago from a state with tip credit and have normally not thought too much of leaving a 25% tip to help the server have a good night. However, with now knowing about how WA doesn't have tip credit and thinking prices here are just higher, especially if $15 now is implemented as a flat min wage, I'm going to be paring back on my tipping. It's dawning on me that 10% of that steak may be paying the server already.
Posted by ChefJoe on April 9, 2014 at 11:12 PM · Report this
98
Dominic, do you read your comment threads or listen to http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive… ? Jess from 15Now said she doesn't believe in tips, and Saru makes a case for why we should eliminate tipping as well.

All of the arguments against a tip credit are also very valid arguments against tipping...
Posted by j2patter on April 9, 2014 at 11:16 PM · Report this
99
15 Now has NEVER advocated for an abolition of tips. Dave Meinert is LYING out of his wealthy mouth.

@JimR - In 1988 77% of the state voted to increase the minimum wage for tipped employees by 85% over 2 years, and employment in those sectors increased at a greater rate than the rest of the economy. This is a larger increase over a shorter period of time than proposed by 15 Now.

A combination of savings due to reduced turnover and increased productivity from workers, modest profit reductions, and very modest price augmentations, have resulted in no statistically significant reductions in employment, as often these stats show increased employment levels.

The data from all increases in the min. wage shows that the likes of Dave Meinert are liars. But the stats may not relate to the impact of this debate on Meinert's establishments, as socially progressive folks that are aware of his advocacy for poverty wages will steer clear of his establishments.

Posted by bogart14 on April 10, 2014 at 12:00 AM · Report this
100
@99,
did you not see Jess Spear, 15Now organizing director, posting (and then linking to a story about a restaurant that is now closed and has a lot of reviews for bad service) ? She's a parrot.

We need to move away from tipping in general.

As for how it can change the relationship between servers and customers (as well as the business itself), I could say what I think would happen (all positive), but perhaps it's worth reading this experience:


http://jayporter.com/dispatches/observat…
http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives…
Posted by ChefJoe on April 10, 2014 at 12:06 AM · Report this
101
@99, you know that they only increased the minimum wage to $4.25 in 1990 vs $3.80 by the federal rate (which the feds had at 4.25 just a year later).

If you're talking about being only 12% higher than the fed minimum wage then it's not so drastic. That would be $7.95 today.
http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/…

What you're ignoring is that there's a cycle to how minimum wages rise.. some states go, fed follows, then some states raise it further... etc.
Posted by ChefJoe on April 10, 2014 at 12:12 AM · Report this
seatackled 102
Friedman has been a drama queen, but I'm actually kind of shocked that he's essentially calling for Dom to be fired. People who have met him, is he really--and pardon the term--such a whiny little bitch in real life?
Posted by seatackled on April 10, 2014 at 12:33 AM · Report this
103
What's being proposed has never been done before. You cannot reference minimum wage increases of the past and think that the same situations will happen. What's being proposed is a massive minimum wage increase in the state that currently already has the highest minimum wage, and zero tip credit.
Posted by JimR on April 10, 2014 at 12:40 AM · Report this
104
@32 maybe we should stop serving you. Also, pretty sure you will not be missed at any restaurant because clearly you are clueless. You are probably someone that claims to be an excellent tipper and then leaves 10%.

Um, why are you sending spies to employee restaurant meetings? What's the agenda behind that?? We are having meetings because we make way more than $15/hr and don't want to see our profession destroyed in Seattle.

What kind of information are you fed over at Tea Party central? For Dave Meniert to write a letter assisting employees is fine because HE KNOWS HOW MUCH MONEY WE ALL MAKE in Seattle. A lot more than $15/hr.

Anyway, what's with the spies again? Seriously weird.
Posted by serversdontneedyoursaving on April 10, 2014 at 1:53 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 105
@90: Ironic that you complain about someone else's lack of integrity when you admitted that you completely made up the numbers that were the crux of the editorial you wrote a couple weeks ago.

Remember when you wrote an editorial about how dumb everyone who disagrees with you is, and then in less than a day those same people goaded you into admitting that your numbers were totally fabricated?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on April 10, 2014 at 5:16 AM · Report this
106
@99 -

$15Now leader Jess Spear has called for moving away from tipping in her statements. Sawant has vilified tipping. And Labor backers of $15Now have told me directly they want to change my business model and get rid of tipping.

When we raised the minimum wage in Washington for tipped workers in the late 1980's, we lost 11,700 jobs and experienced higher inflation. Among restaurants we saw a significant decrease in the numbers of servers per restaurant to the point where Washington now averages the fewest number of servers per restaurant in the US

I want to raise the minimum wage to $15. It will cost me a lot of profit to do so in the short run, but I think it's the right thing to do. IF we can count tips for servers as part of the MW. This makes total sense. It's not an evil proposal. It raised the minimum wage for well over 90% of workers in Seattle to $15, and guarantees the rest never make less than $15 (since they already make well over that).

The only untruths being told here are by $15Now advocates and ROC when they put out info about how tipped workers in Seattle live in poverty, and claim they average $9.87 per hour. This info would be a joke were it not being used to try to lower so many peoples' incomes.

Count tips as wages and ensure everyone gets a increase in income, or don't and make sure a whole class of workers gets a decrease in income.
Posted by Meinert on April 10, 2014 at 8:37 AM · Report this
Jill on the Hill 107
@106
Venturing into Romney territory.
Make up fake facts fitting your needs, repeat it over and over, use your money taken from your workers to work against their interests. Your fake facts are easily disproved, but by then the sloggers have moved on and your BS has been taken in. Now you're cohering your employees and friends to astro-turf on your behalf. Euwwww.

Your astro-turfing campaign is really, really smarmy.
Posted by Jill on the Hill on April 10, 2014 at 9:10 AM · Report this
DOUG. 108
@106: Remember when you said that raising the minimum wage "will mean115 jobs lost" at Lost Lake? That was an "untruth", wasn't it?

This could be a really good debate, but it sucks that you and some of your fellow restaurant owners cannot be honest with your numbers. It puts your whole argument in question.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on April 10, 2014 at 9:17 AM · Report this
109
$15Now group, Socialist Alternative the ROC are not shy or secretive about the fact they want to dismantle the tipping culture. This is well documented.

The 1988 STATE increase does not offer a reliable comparison to our current (CITY) situation.

- The $2.30 minimum wage of 1988 was $1.05 (or 31.3%) LESS than the Federal minimum wage of $3.35 in 1988
- The minimum wage of $2.30 had been so since 1976 – 12 years with no increase.
- The jump from $2.30 to $4.25 over two years would be the equivalent of going from $4.64 to $7.85 in today's dollars.
- We are well above the $7.85, now currently at $9.32 and scheduled to automatically increase in January 1, 2015 based on the CPI.

Washington State at $9.32 currently has the highest effective minimum wage in the nation for tipped workers. When SEATTLE (City not the State) raises the minimum wage, with a tip credit this will not change.

A server in Seattle will never make below $9.32 per hour (plus cost of living increases already built in). Seattle tipped workers can continue as they currently do, highest effective minimum wage with no change to the tipping culture. This is no penalty. It works, leave it alone.

Tips are income and tipped employees in SEATTLE are not low wage workers.
Posted by Seattle91 on April 10, 2014 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Jill on the Hill 110
Astroturfing:
The practice of masking the sponsors of a message to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participant(s).

It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations more credibility by withholding information about the source's financial connection.
Posted by Jill on the Hill on April 10, 2014 at 9:30 AM · Report this
111
@107 - what facts are made up? Be specific and I'm happy to answer.

The made up 'fact' here is from Dom. He's lying, he knows I'm not behind a campaign to convince servers of anything. But integrity in reporting isn't one of Dom's strong suits.

Posted by Meinert on April 10, 2014 at 9:32 AM · Report this
COMTE 112
Dear @92:

Assuming one's personal anecdotal experience can be generalized to the point of negating the experiences of tens of thousands of other people who DON'T share that same experience makes one an ass.
Posted by COMTE on April 10, 2014 at 9:41 AM · Report this
Jill on the Hill 113
Don't change the law that protects workers from being forced to pay our own wages. Make any increase in the wage law a real wage increase, not a Windfall Profits to the business owners.

Allowing business owners to claim our tips as their own money will result is Windfall Profits to the business owners. The owners can slash payroll expenses because the workers will be paying their own wages. The business would be off the hook for paying wages!
Posted by Jill on the Hill on April 10, 2014 at 10:08 AM · Report this
DOUG. 114
@Meinert: Did you write this paragraph, as Dom's source alleges:
Let your servers know that if tips aren't counted as part of the minimum wage, tips will probably go away, and a service charge will be implemented which would have sales tax taken out and would have to be used to pay for the wage increases. It's most likely that no one would ever make over $20-$25 per hour, if even that.

If so, it is full of lies. Tips will not probably go away, there's no way to know if a service charge will be implemented, and it's very likely that servers will continue to make over $20-$25 per hour.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on April 10, 2014 at 10:14 AM · Report this
Jill on the Hill 115
As Mike Wallace said:
"Your words, not mine..."

"Hey all - Sawant and $15Now are on the attack to keep tips out of total compensation in the minimum wage fight. We need servers to come out now and support tipping. Can you collect emails I can take to the Mayor and his task force, and possibly publish in the Times or Stranger? Need them asap. ----- I suggest passing this on to staff. We will send these to city council and the mayor. If anyone wants it to remain private or anonymous they can let me know and it will."

It's your email Dave, I know people that got it. Dom is not lying.
Your campaign
Your self-interested Bullshit

Smarmy.
Totally totally smarmy.
I've got work to do.
Bye bye
Posted by Jill on the Hill on April 10, 2014 at 10:20 AM · Report this
116
Have any of you ever worked in the restaurant industry? What do you all do for work?
As a long time bartender, I make a comfortable living wage well above $15 an hour. I get a lot of negative responses when the price of a drink is too high and even though I didn't make the prices (which are in line with all the other prices of surrounding restaurants) and I was still polite and smiled, I don't get a tip. Just ask yourself if you would tip knowing I am making $15 an hour? Let's not forget that your check average just went up 20% (to cover costs) so you're now paying 40% more assuming you tip 20%.
I hope I still get tips from you and make $15 an hour. I just doubt that it would happen. Unfortunately, we won't know and I'd rather take my chances by not changing anything and I still make my comfortable wage.
All I ask is do your research and some simple math. The small businesses that are barely breaking even now will have to close. I know this because they've been on the brink of closing for years and this would crush them.

Posted by bartending101 on April 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM · Report this
117
Nicely done Dom. I once challenged Dave to find out how his employees feel on this issue free of coercion. My suggestion was he simply ask them through a secret ballot whether they thought their tips should count towards the minimum wage. In order to be objective such a ballot needed to be conducted without any anecdotal threats of job loss or other adverse employment consequences. Once they have been baselined on the subject then he could have an objective, fact based discussion about the possible ramifications of a minimum wage increase. Apparently that approach didn't work for Dave ... instead we get a classic case of employer coercion. So, like I said, nicely done Dom .... but I now worry about your future employment. We saw what happened to Goldy when he took on the Cool Kids Club.
Posted by Freiboth on April 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM · Report this
118
Okay enough. What do we restaurant workers have to do to persuade you that we have the same stance as these owners you falsely believe to be millionaires, that we DO NOT live in poverty, that we enjoy our profession and are in no way oppressed by our employers? We are uniting as service industry workers, we are brainstorming with people like Dave Meinert who shares the same view as us (what is wrong with wanting to group together and get info to the council? 15Now is doing this everyday - and where is the integrity on spying on a private meeting of employees talking about their rights?)

If you don't believe we are all real, let's have a public debate about it? And you will see us all and hear how much we don't want to be making $15/hr in this industry without tips. CNBC poled 2,300 people, 77% said if they knew their server was making $15/hr they would not tip. Don't blame Dave Meinert, blame your crappy research and being brainwashed. If you truly care about people, listen to the people. And let's raise the wage responsibly and in a way that doesn't destroy the culture of Seattle.
Posted by serversdontneedyoursaving on April 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM · Report this
119
Dear @112

All right. You are a jerk and I am an ass and there has not been one iota of information passed between us that furthers the cause at hand - moving people out of poverty.

The comments world is such a grand place...
Posted by M. Wells on April 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Report this
DOUG. 120
@118: CNBC did not poll 2300 people. 2300 people responded to a Yes/No question on CNBC's website. That's totally different.

I wish we could have an honest debate on this important issue. The misinformation coming from the restaurant industry is unfortunate.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on April 10, 2014 at 12:50 PM · Report this
121
@92 Not listening to the personal experience of low wage workers while fawning over restauranteurs is what's problematic. But, again, data trumps personal stories. A rational debate doesn't revolve around the cries of restauranteurs who have already cried wolf over paid sick leave, which they have survived just fine. Just ask Mr. Douglas how he overestimated the cost of that initiative by two thirds and how it hasn't resulted in one job loss at his business.
Posted by frozenfrog on April 10, 2014 at 1:10 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 122
@104
I tip 15% regardless of service (even for shitty service), 20% for good service, more for outstanding service.

Judging from the comps and friends and family discounts I get from the places I frequent (they all provide outstanding service), I'd say they appreciate my patronage.

Also, at a 20%-30% tip rate my server is generally pulling down more than $15 an hour from me alone when I sit in their section… So, as much as I appreciate their service (and talent), I can’t help but feel that they are adequately compensated for doing the job at hand.
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on April 10, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 123
Hey, David @ 111: From your comment and the text messages you sent yesterday, you seem to believe I'm lying. I offered to correct any errors. Your point, I inferred from your reply, was that you were not behind the effort to contact restaurant staff. However, you confirmed that you sent the message to these business owners with the goal of them distributing it to restaurant staff. Perhaps someone else instructed you to send that letter and you are suggesting that they, not you, are behind the effort? I'm not clear. Again, if there is something wrong in my post, I am happy to run a correction.
Posted by Dominic Holden on April 10, 2014 at 3:57 PM · Report this
COMTE 124
Just a little more "food" for thought:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-restaur…
Posted by COMTE on April 10, 2014 at 4:12 PM · Report this
Jill on the Hill 125
The Tipping Hierarchy

The waiter/bartender/shift/tipping hierarchy is well known by anyone who has been "in the business" for any length of time. The well placed work hard and cash in but the new, incompetent and out of favor get the crapy shifts.

I think the people that support paying the owners wages out of their own tips, are the bartenders & waiters that are seasoned & highly placed in the server pecking order. They are getting the shifts they want, the profitable ones. That is natural and the way it works. Some places pool the shift tips and share a percentage with the bussers, runners and back off house but the prime shifts are still had by the Alfa workers.

The pecking order is dependent on the owner/manager's Fiat.
There are hundreds of waiters, bartenders that have really well paid jobs but there are thousands working minimum wages that this would clearly benefit (as long as the owners don't claim their tips)

We are hearing from workers on top of the earning totem pole protecting their higher earning jobs, they don't seem to have any solidarity with there poorly paid fellow workers.
Plus this is just the restaurant workers, not the thousands of other workers that will benefit greatly from a higher wage.

Ramp up the Minimum Wage to $15
Don't let the owners claim worker's tips as their own!
Posted by Jill on the Hill on April 10, 2014 at 5:38 PM · Report this
126
Shill on the Hill,
Who are all of these MW workers that will keep their jobs & not be replaced with higher skilled people from other cities.You think owners are just going to sit back and not adapt to the new changes. Yes the MW actually promotes discrimination..It will be nice to see all the business hiring out of town White boys who are competing for the new jobs (Remember their will be a Wage lift ..the frmr $15 now makes $18) and minorities left holding the bag like in San-Francisco. But it makes for a nice headline while the reality is that its just a way for money to move from the really poor to the working poor. Nice work JILL
Posted by A real live employer on April 11, 2014 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 127
@126

I just want to point out that you were an asshole to Jill for reasons that had nothing to do with me, or Dominic Holden, or anybody else. Please don't blame others for your own choices, OK?

You "job creators" are so arrogant about your personal responsibility and hard work, so right here would be a good opportunity for you to take personal responsibility for your own dickish behavior.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 11, 2014 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Jill on the Hill 128
Great to see the successes Mr. Meinert has enjoyed here in Seattle.
His minimum wage employees likely number well into the hundreds. They do not deserve to be covertly manipulated to work against their own interest and lobby other to do the same.

Here is the short list of Mr. Meinert little empire.

Dave is owner of The Comet, 5 Point Café, Big Mario’s New York Style Pizza & Lost Lake.
Co-owner of the Capitol Hill Block Party.
He also owns a boutique travel agency,
A record label,
An artist management company (where he manages Blue Scholars, Common Market, Hey Marseilles, and Fences),
Posted by Jill on the Hill on April 11, 2014 at 2:53 PM · Report this
129
Ahh boy. Jill you are actually wrong on all your facts about Davids ownership and interests, He is a co-owner in all businesses with the exception of the 5 point, and has nothing to do with the capitol hill block party anymore.

Anyway….that aside.

The suggestion of total compensation is simply a way to ensure that those living below the new suggested living wage of $15 get the raise they need, while those who are clearly over the new living wage, are not given an unnecessary raise, making it possible for an entire industry to adapt to the new shift.

The tip average at my restaurant yesterday was 21%, based on sales. The lowest hourly w/ tips was about $19 per hour, highest was $39.93. I'm just curious if people really think that my servers, who do incredibly well need a 6 an hour raise?

If it was to go to $15 across with no total compensation i think it would shake out like this.

Ultimately the price will be passed onto the customer one way or another, and the effects will likely mean less income for servers. It will ultimately create a distribution of wealth between FOH and BOH, which may be good? Unfortunately restaurants operate on margins to thin to absorb the cost, so either the customer will see one of 2 things in my prediction...

1- a flat service charge (like you would currently see now on large parties) that would then be used to pay the new wages.

2- Inflation of about 20% with no tip line made available, and slightly higher wages for FOH than BOH. Like starbucks….

Both likely would lead to less earnings for the FOH staff in most instances, but just like the total compensation model, Back of house would be at $15.

That being said, Informing staff that there IS a real movement to try to eliminate tips as a form of income is hardly egregious to those making tips. They should know and get involved if they care to continue to see the existing system stay in place.

Tips are 90% trackable as most are paid with credit cards, and end up on the staffs w2's and are reported to the IRS. There are no smoke and mirrors here. The argument that owners will steal a tips etc etc doesn't really hold up.

More...
Posted by swakinc on April 11, 2014 at 8:59 PM · Report this
130
Shill on the Hill.
What would you prefer..Meinart be unsuccessful and own one business and hire just a few people. So its a negative that he has alot of employee's? I dont really get your logic. He creates jobs..some low wage..some not> without him those employee's have to find another employer who creates jobs to work for who like Meinart will pay them similiar.
Starting a business is a RISK..Failure Rate is high...We are lucky if we can survive with one business let alone many to provide people opportunities.

People like you think the magic "job" Fairy waves her wand and in the morning you wake up gainfully employed..
Posted by A real live employer on April 11, 2014 at 11:02 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 131
Anyone who works in the service industry can ask their coworkers whether they have worked in a state with a tipped wage of $2.13 per hour. Ask them if they're better off here or in a place with a tip penalty.

These sockpuppet accounts and astroturf campaigns can send all the secret emails they want, but in the end the workers know they're better off getting the same full minimum wage as everybody else. Don't (want to) believe it? Ask. They don't need Dave Meinert to make crystal ball predictions about the future, or listen to any of these fake Slog sockuppet commenters. Ask your coworkers.

They've been there and they've done that and they know they make more here than there.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 12, 2014 at 7:59 AM · Report this
Jill on the Hill 132
@129
Ahh boy. Jill you are actually wrong on all your facts about Davids ownership and interests
~Thank you! for the updated information, I stand corrected. and I applaud his entrepreneurship.~

@130
Apparently your snark glasses made it hard for you to read the first line of the post... "Great to see the successes Mr. Meinert has enjoyed here in Seattle."

We all "tip our hat" to owners and people that work hard, hire employees and play fair, all of which Dave Meinart certainly seems to do. It is also fair play to disagree with Dave's efforts to rewire the minimum wage law to favor his particular situation. Dave's documented astroturfing is just plain creepy thou, well below what I'd expect.

Ramp up the Minimum Wage to $15
Don't let the owners claim worker's tips as their own

So long, Bye bye be well, enjoy life.
Posted by Jill on the Hill on April 12, 2014 at 10:16 AM · Report this
Jill on the Hill 133
The owners routinely claim to be "liberal/progressives"
Taking a page from the Koch Brothers play book they are working for and funding super conservative groups like:
Forward Seattle/ One Seattle
Washington Restaurant Association.
Seattle Restaurant Alliance

Check out the Media and City Hall lobbying campaign well under way.

Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Washington Restaurant Association:
http://blogs.seattletimes.com/politicsno

Forward Seattle:
http://blog.seattlepi.com/capitolhill/20

JEREMY HARDY owner of the Coastal Kitchen and Mioposto Pizzeria:
http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/print

Seattle Restaurant Alliance:
http://warestaurant.org/blog/restaurants
Posted by Jill on the Hill on April 13, 2014 at 1:56 PM · Report this
134
Wait jill, so know we are not progressives because we are forming an opposition vs just bending over and taking it. Shame on you for playing that type of game with people. I dont wish any business owner the unfortunate experiance of dealing with you. You hypocrites that pretend to be authentic and tear apart the small biz you frequent without really understanding what your really going to do
Posted by A real live employer on April 13, 2014 at 11:33 PM · Report this
135
Wait jill, so know we are not progressives because we are forming an opposition vs just bending over and taking it. Shame on you for playing that type of game with people. I dont wish any business owner the unfortunate experiance of dealing with you. You hypocrites that pretend to be authentic and tear apart the small biz you frequent without really understanding the impact on the business on the labor force.
Posted by A real live employer on April 13, 2014 at 11:40 PM · Report this
Jill on the Hill 136
@135
What is the "Game" I'm playing?
Daring to speak my mind in the face of your opinion?
How exactly am I pretending to be something I'm not??

I'm pointing out the political bodies Restaurant owners fund like the Seattle Restaurant Assoc, do their political biding and these Assoc are in fact classically conservative, pro-business / anti worker organizations.
The Seattle Restaurant Assoc, Wash Restaurant Assoc consistantly fight changes making workplace conditions better for the worker. That is what they are paid to do.
Sick Leave, Minimum wage, Comp Time, Workplace conditions, Workers Compensation Insurance, The Industry Associations has fought to weaken all these. The Industry Associations are in fact very anti-worker, and that is certainly not "liberal/progressive".

I'm not disrespecting you but I may well disagree with your assumptions.

Suffice it to say, I too am "A real live employer". Many, many years and counting. Cheers.
Posted by Jill on the Hill on April 14, 2014 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Splabman 137
You go Jill!
Posted by Splabman http://www.AmericanSentences.com on July 11, 2014 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Kurt Trujillo 138
A small business may fail if it's forced to pay $15/hour.

In contrast, corporations and larger businesses can easily afford to pay $15.

Its time to realize that not all businesses are the same.

We have all been conditioned for decades to accept that corporations and other large businesses can get away with paying the same minimum wage that tiny businesses have to pay. It's fundamentally wrong. We need to re-calibrate our thinking.

Each different business should pay wages according to how much profit that particular business needs to stay afloat and to still be profitable for the owner.

If a tiny business goes under from having to pay $15/hour then what good does the $15/hour law do? Killing small businesses only opens up new opportunities for more corporations to come in and monopolize.

In the end, there is more to consider than just the employees. You also have to address the reality of the small business itself. Small business opportunities help to build a strong middle class. Without small business, you have only corporate masters and the worker slaves.

Posted by Kurt Trujillo on September 30, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Clara T 139
the best Facebook comment on this: Fuck you, he didn't do what you told him!
Posted by Clara T on September 30, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Report this
140
the evidence is clear, why do europeans and south americans not tip correctly in the states? because service workers are paid better salary's and don't take tips on top of the bill in their countries. if you want to be paid fifteen dollars and hour than you wont be tipped out, duh. i grew up in seattle and now live in nyc working as a waiter, i make 5$ an hour and the rest is tips, i know how i can make more money as a server when i have the right costumers, but is has less to do with my service skill than how my guest wants to tip. my service skill is really more what gets me a job in a restaurant that attracts customers who are more inclined to tip heavy. if you want to run the risk of being tipped out, and you work hard to be employed at a restaurant that caters to rich guests who are inclined to tip well, you will make money. if you are an average service industry employee you would probably do better taking 15$ now and foregoing tips. it is simple, do you want social benefits of a high standard wage or do you want wage leniency with the possibility higher than standard tip pay? make your choice employees, but know that you will change the architecture of restaurant dining with your decision.
Posted by pjpjpjpj on September 30, 2014 at 6:27 PM · Report this
141
Since we have computers now, restaurants should display the total running turnover of money in and money out. Tips will be included and as long as the place stays in the red and the owner makes their predetermined cut % after lawful obligations, the employees can get money back for their work on top of the $15 minimum wage. Earnings including tips(E)-labor, taxes, L&I, social security, insurance, rent, utilities, lawyer, phone bill, transportation, fuel, food, accountants, bonuses, healthcare?, owner income(L)=broke(B) or profit returned to employees(P). E-L=B or P.
Posted by john jorde on September 30, 2014 at 9:57 PM · Report this
142
sorry meant black.
Posted by john jorde on September 30, 2014 at 9:58 PM · Report this

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