UnderCover Waitress: Florida Proposed Legislation to Slash Tipped Workers Minimum Wage

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Florida Proposed Legislation to Slash Tipped Workers Minimum Wage

This is breaking news.

A Florida senate committee in Tallahassee unveiled SPB 7021 on Tuesday, just two days ago. The proposal is to lower 

...Florida's minimum wage for tipped workers — now $4.65 an hour — to the federal tipped minimum of $2.13 for companies that agree to guarantee that with wages and tips their employees will make at least $9.98 an hour.

The (non-tipped employee) minimum wage in the state of Florida is currently $7.67 per hour. The guaranteed tip credit bringing waitress wages to $9.98 per hour is based upon an average of just under $10 per hour for waitresses in Florida. Personally, I think shaving off the two cents from the tip credit is bloody ludicrous. 

Remember, a tip credit is the difference between minimum wage and tipped employee minimum wage. Therefore, if minimum wage is $8, and tipped employee minimum wage is $5, a waitress must be compensated an additional $3 per hour per shift, either from tips or from the restaurant. (The latter seldom, if ever, happens.) 

The Florida legislation is offering to guarantee a tip credit that brings waitress wages higher than Florida's regular minimum wage. Predictably, however, I am a bit skeptical. I've spent too many years with non-waitress staff looking at me like their personal ATM to be comfortable with a pay slash. 

In theory, every waitress in Florida will walk home with at least $10 minus two pennies in wages per hour per shift. If you believe this, however, I have a lovely apricot orchard in the Middle East for sale. It's a wonderful investment; I'll send you pictures. You can pay me via paypal. 

On slow shifts, she will be subjected to the guilt trip / veiled threat that, "If you can't make at least under $10 per hour, you must be a terrible waitress." Even after good shifts during which she made good money, she still will be required to tip out or tip pool. If she fusses that tipping out brings her to less than $9.98 per hour, she gets the guilt trip / veiled threat. She also earns the wrath of bussers, bartenders, and anybody else making at least $7.67 before tips. If she tip pools, she probably has to put ALL tips in the pool, not just tips after keeping the $9.98 per hour. 

This strikes me as another example of the restaurant industry claiming poverty and expecting the least powerful employee to compensate the rest of the staff. Years ago, I worked with kitchen staff and managers who were making terrible wages, and literally having difficulty feeding their children as a result. I got a peek at the books. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I was floored at the amount of money the owner was drawing while telling full-time employees he couldn't pay them more. 

When banks and businesses go unregulated, a few get rich by stepping on and breaking the necks of the many. If you don't believe me, the next time your boss pleads poverty, look at what he or she drives. 

Outback Steakhouse supports this bill. Those of you who dine there may want to consider this next time your are planning an evening out. 


  1. A server makes over $100 in a 4hr. Shift on a busy night. You do the math. I think they more than meet the requirement.

  2. You seem to be assuming that all servers make over $100 for every 4 hours they work. Nothing could be further from the truth. If that were true, people would be lining up for waitress and waiter jobs.

    Nobody can live on $25 per hour, 6 hour shift, once or twice per week (Friday and Saturday night.) Wednesday night, she will be lucky to make minimum. The $25 per shift on Friday and Saturday nights are only in 1) expensive restaurants with dinner shifts.

    Your terse, resentful tone tells me that you are most likely kitchen staff who spends his shifts resenting the money he assumes the waitresses are "always" making. Either that, or you are a restaurant owner who is trying to get rich by breaking his most financially vulnerable staff members.

  3. And morons like this get elected to office. People who haven't the slightest idea what life is like in the real world.

    Makes you want to drag them by the ear and make them see, doesn't it?

  4. Heh. Makes me want to require them to work in the real world for a year before working as an elected official.

  5. Petition to vote NO on SPB 7210: http://sayno7210.com

  6. Signed and tweeted. Will help to get word about this petition out.

  7. You may want to look at this fact sheet on the proposed legislation from the National Employment Law Project:


    This legislation is clearly unconstitutional (the Florida Minimum Wage including the tip credit is part of the state's Constitution and cannot be lowered by the Legislature at the behest of the restaurant industry).

  8. @Rob Williams,
    Thank you!
    Today's post (2/16/2012) discusses the Restaurant Opportunities Center's report that was just submitted to Capital Hill. Among other things, it calls for a raise in the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13.

  9. When I heard this news on Colbert of all places (and not any other regular news station) I got really steamed. I'm not a waiter or even in restaurants, but I am so mad that my team (the Republicans in State Legislature) decided to attack lower class Americans AGAIN. I'm running out of patience with these DB's. Too bad the Democrats can't be trusted anymore as a choice. Everyone is bought and paid for by these SuperPacs. Obama gave an interview saying he was the Anti-Pac Man, and less than 12 hours later said he would support a SuperPac even as far as sending Cabinet Level employees of the Executive Branch to campaign events. Hideous. Hideous. Hideous!

  10. If this bill is kept quite, they win, ALL must know and all must be educated. Hours are not only being cut, but Managers are making servers do more, plus tip out more! The threats are daily verbal attacks and getting stiffed by a NON tipper is just part of a serving job, why should a diner have to supplement my income? (manager opinion and tipping is only an option but tipping out IS NOT) Most people do not care as long as they do not have to pay for it. That's why there is NO dishwasher for about 5 hours, because they have to pay them. So as long as they want to change things, why don't they donate a percentage of their salary to off set our losses, donate their sick paid hours, and down size their benefits, (flying on our dime private or first class, commissary privileges, free office space, phone calls, and postage, and the list goes on and on, but let us work for an average much less then most! And the tipping out everyone under the sun to supplement their pay whether they work or not, or we get tipped or not, is down right criminal, change that, oh would that effect your big fat manager bonus or your 5 weeks paid vacation???? Well maybe we should pay to work there, anyone who has not waited tables, should have to start in the kitchen, take out trash, wash dishes, and then wait tables and be treated like dirt, guaranteed they wouldn't last let alone do it for even fifty dollars an hour, because it's beneath them, just like we are, we are not deserving of their respect, just making them their big paychecks! All servers must unite and make it better NOT allow it to get worse!

    1. Waitressing is what I call a "kitchen sink" job. In most states, you may be asked to do just about anything. The good news is that this bill did not pass.


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