Rhode Island has been one of the leaders in the minimum wage fight, with the state minimum wage going up to $9 an hour this January and $10.10 in 2016. However, forgotten among this Workers Right’s victory has been the plight of tipped workers such as waitresses and busboys, whose wages have stagnated at a mere $2.89 per hour for the last 20 years. These workers were not affected by Rhode Island’s minimum wage increase, and will continue to have stagnate wages unless we take action.
Tipped workers are three times more likely to live in poverty than others in the U.S. workforce. On the Federal level, a tipped worker is defined as anyone who makes over $30 in tips per month, so this issue encompasses more workers across the service industry than commonly understood.
Dubbed as the “sub-minimum wage,” these poverty wages disproportionally affect women and workers of color, who are likely to have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. In Rhode Island alone, there are over 21,000 tipped workers (including 7,000 mothers with children on free lunch) who would benefit enormously from a raise. Unpredictable tips is not a dependable source of income, and Rhode Island needs to follow the lead of the seven Western states who have eliminated the separate tipped minimum wage today.
Working Families is fighting for tipped workers in Rhode Island, lobbying members of the state assembly to vote in favor of Rep. Aaron Regunberg’s (D-Providence) bill that raises then ultimately eliminates the sub-minimum wage by 2020. Nobody’s base salary should be dependent entirely on a customer’s mood. Support tipped workers across the state and sign this petition to eliminate the sub-minimum wage today!