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State May Raise Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers by 50 Percent or More by Next Year

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The state wage board is recommending a major increase in wages, which would have a huge effect on the restaurant industry.

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The heated debate over tipping and minimum wages for restaurant servers took a major step forward today when the New York state wage board recommended that servers earn $7.50 an hour, plus tips. That's a 50 percent increase from what servers make pre-tips now, notes the AP. If the state's Labor Commissioner signs off, the law would go into effect December 31 of this year. Governor Cuomo released a statement supporting the measure: "For far too long, wages for tipped workers in New York state have been too low...Today the Wage Board has recommended a course that begins to rectify that."

In contrast, the New York State Restaurant Association called the recommended increase "outrageous and unprecedented." Representatives for the association say that the proposed legislation would raise labor costs, forcing restaurants to either significantly raise prices or cut staff positions. Labor advocates have been pushing for the abolishment of a tipping wage hard recently. Sara Niccoli, the director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State said: "We would have been thrilled by the elimination, but this is a significant increase."

The legislation does contain a caveat. Employers would be allowed to pay workers $6.50 an hour if workers make one and a half times minimum wage with tips counted. At the same time, the state is considering allowing New York City to raise its tipped minimum wage to be even higher than what's required in the rest of the state. If that goes into effect, workers may make up to $8.50 an hour. Stay tuned.

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