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Rethinking tipping culture


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#271 SobaAddict70

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 06:24 AM

Q: "Do they [the restaurant industry] have a point when they say that an increase in the minimum wage will mean a cut in service and higher costs?"

A: "Well, these are their two primary arguments: one, that it will kill jobs, two, that it will make the cost of food go up. So on that first one, killing jobs. There are actually seven states in the United States that have the same wage for tipped and non-tipped workers. They range from somewhere around $8.00 and $9.50 an hour. You can go to California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Nevada, Minnesota. All seven states have faster industry growth rates than the restaurant industry nationally. And in fact, we recently did a regression, looked at the states with the higher minimum wages for tipped workers, we found that they have higher sales per capita in the restaurant industry.

"So we would argue that evidence shows that you could actually do better as an industry, faster industry growth, more jobs, if you treat your workers better. On that second argument that the cost of food will go up. We used USDA methodology. And we applied the current bill that's moving through Congress to every worker along the food chain, from farm workers, to meat and poultry processing workers, to restaurant workers. And we assume that every employer along the food chain would pass on 100 percent of the cost of the wage increase to their purchaser. The title of the report is “A Dime a Day", because it would cost the average American household at most $0.10 more for all food bought outside the home. That's groceries and restaurants alike. So we're talking pennies more on your hamburger when you eat out, for 30 million workers to come out of poverty.

Q: "But what do you say to the small-business owner, who says “Gee I run a very small place, we-- our waiters depend upon the tips at the counter. We just can't afford it. We'd go out of business if you require us to raise their wages."

A: "I would say a couple of things. First of all, you as a small business, you are actually being cheated by these very large corporations that are running the show, setting the standards, raking in millions of profits and screwing you by getting away with very-- you know-- very, very large, high-volume business and setting standards that require you to have to pay for very high rates of turnover. Our industry has the highest rates of employee turnover of any industry in the United States. I would say-- I can point you to plenty of small businesses around the country that actually pay their workers a livable wage and have managed to cut their turnover in half, in some cases, completely out, because they treat their workers well.

"I would also say that nobody's expecting you to change your wages overnight. We're talking about policies that would phase in a minimum wage increase. A minimum wage increase for both your servers and the back of the house. But the last and most important thing I would say is this: no customer in America believes when they leave a tip that they are leaving a wage for a worker. Nobody believes that they're paying a wage. People think they're paying a tip on top of a wage. We don't think about this in any other context except restaurants. We believe somehow that because they're getting tips, they shouldn't get a wage. It's not true in any other context. And that is because of the power of this industry."



http://billmoyers.co...ork-and-no-pay/

#272 gfweb

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 07:09 AM

I'm no defender of the US tipping policy, but Moyers (as usual) only gives half of the story. Certainly the minimum wage for servers is crazy low...and tipping is variable, but the fact that there actually are servers working in restaurants indicates that they are making enough money to stay in that job.


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#273 SobaAddict70

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 08:26 AM

$2.13 per hour + tips is "enough money to stay in that job".

Okay.

#274 gfweb

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 10:00 AM

$2.13 per hour + tips is "enough money to stay in that job".

Okay.

Well, it must be enough money for them to keep at the job because observation indicates that the servers are there and working.

 

Unless its just a hobby for them.

 

Would they like to do better? Sure. Is the current system stupid? Absolutely.



#275 gfweb

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 10:07 AM

Lets think through what a server might make at a diner.  8 hours x $2.13 = $17.04 in salary

 

lets say he/she served 30 customers ( a low number, I think for 8 hours)  who had an average check of $20 (also low) and they all tipped 15% that's $90 tips plus salary for 107 for 8 hours or $13.38/hour. And I bet I've way-underestimated things. Might be half again or twice as much.


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#276 SobaAddict70

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 12:03 PM

Well, it must be enough money for them to keep at the job because observation indicates that the servers are there and working.
 
Unless its just a hobby for them.
 
Would they like to do better? Sure. Is the current system stupid? Absolutely.



They may be there because they have no other choice. If they leave that job, in this economy, where would they go?

Are you even aware of what it is you're saying?

$2.13 per hour + tips is less than minimum wage. It's legalized slavery. Let's be blunt and call a spade a spade.

#277 SobaAddict70

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 12:07 PM

Lets think through what a server might make at a diner.  8 hours x $2.13 = $17.04 in salary
 
lets say he/she served 30 customers ( a low number, I think for 8 hours)  who had an average check of $20 (also low) and they all tipped 15% that's $90 tips plus salary for 107 for 8 hours or $13.38/hour. And I bet I've way-underestimated things. Might be half again or twice as much.



That's a broad assumption that very likely doesn't bear out in reality.

You're forgetting that in many places, tips are pooled and divided amongst all FOH workers. So that includes busboys (who don't receive tips), or if it's your stereotypical diner or Olive Garden, it might also include things like the cashier and other FOH staff. So your effective $13.38 per hour is even less when you take those factors into account. And that's assuming that management is above-board, not like slimeballs who steal or skim off tips.

You're also not considering things like lack of health insurance and the amount of sexual harassment restaurant workers regularly endure. Those ARE factors that must be included because they impact a server's performance and job morale, and further determine an employer's bottom line.

I linked to the report above. Did you even bother to read it? Most likely not, but why should I be surprised?

Yes, $2.13/hour + tips using your napkin math means that American restaurant workers are living in the lap of luxury. Okay.

Edited by SobaAddict70, 14 July 2014 - 12:25 PM.


#278 gfweb

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 12:07 PM

You clearly are not aware of what you are saying.

 

Minimum wage in NYC is $8.00/hour.

 

Save the rhetoric and get your facts straight.

 

And lets keep the conversation civil, OK pal?


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#279 CatPoet

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 11:12 PM

16 USD is the minium wages for a waitress over 20 years of age in Sweden, yes we have high taxes  which will removed on your salary.  How ever  you get healthcare and pension  on this  salary.


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#280 annabelle

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 06:51 AM

CatPoet, your society is structured entirely differently than is our in the US.  What works in Sweden wouldn't work over here.

 

I stand by what I have said whenever this topic crops up:  The waitstaff themselves are not driving a reform to our tipping couture.  If that were the case, it would have been changed decades ago.


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#281 gfron1

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 07:33 AM

As I've said here before, in my very small remote town, my lunch servers average $15/hr and peak around $80.  My night averages $20-25/hr and peaks around $125.  I do a base pay of $4/hr and there is no tip out and no pooling.  I get the best in town.  Previously when I worked at Keystone Ski Resort, I had guys getting much, much more than that - but it was seasonal.  Again, we had the best in town.  My point is that the cream rises just like in any industry.  You can make not only a subsistence living waiting tables, but a helluva living if you hustle and have a head on your shoulders.  As a restaurant owner I fully support a higher minimum or better yet scrapping the tip culture and having the cost shifted into menu prices, but I've seen time and time again that customers don't want that.  I also feel like it has to be an all or none proposal - that the system change completely.

 

The mention to sexual harassment is one we're spending a lot of time with right now with our staff - and the subtle racism that plays out in tips.  That's another discussion but also relevant because we're talking about pay related to work environment.


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#282 Jaymes

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 08:02 AM

I stand by what I have said whenever this topic crops up:  The waitstaff themselves are not driving a reform to our tipping couture.  If that were the case, it would have been changed decades ago.

 

And that is absolutely the God's truth.  It's easy for folks to view this from afar and whine and moan about the "rich and greedy" restaurant owners (is there really even such a thing?), and the "rich and greedy" lobbyists, and the poor "exploited" waitstaff that "has no choice."  But the truth is that most servers like the current system just fine.  If they didn't, there'd be a big revolt, and that would be that.

 

I myself waited tables eons ago, as have all three of my children.  One son hated being "exploited" in the restaurant industry so badly that he decided to make a career of it, and got his degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management. 

 

But for this example, I'm going to tell you about my daughter. 

 

She has an advanced degree in Spanish and is, by profession now, a Spanish teacher.  She worked waiting tables at various times throughout her highschool and college years, in addition to other odd jobs such as coaching and refereeing volleyball and basketball and even flag football and tutoring Spanish.  She met and married a man who was working for Dell at the time, but who had always wanted to go to law school.  She had graduated from university by then and had a really good job teaching Spanish at what is one of the most prestigious high schools in the nation.  It's a boarding school, so there are pupils there from all over the world and, as one of the "boarding faculty," she lived in a nice apartment on campus.  All in all, the timing was good, so her husband quit Dell and headed off to law school.  She was teaching during the day, and waiting tables at night, in order to help pay the bills. 

 

Fast forward to a few years ago; hubby graduated from law school and passed the bar and found a job in Houston, a place where neither of them had ever lived.  The timing was not right for my daughter to get a job teaching Spanish in the local school system, so she walked into one of the best "celeb-chef-restaurants" in the city, and that night came home with nearly $300 in her pocket.  There's only one other job I can think of where you can walk in to work on day one and that night have $300 cash, and it's not something that she would like having to do, let alone something of which her family and husband would approve.

 

"But, but, but..." I can just hear some of you saying.  "Sure...but not everybody is working at a fancy celebrity chef's restaurant hauling home that kind of cash."

 

And you're right about that, of course. Many, perhaps even most, servers are toiling away for much less, sometimes not even making $300 in a week, let alone the first night on the job.

 

They're working in diners and small corner cafes and burger joints and short-order dives.  In fact, they're working in the exact same sorts of places where my three kids and I got our starts in the food service industry.

 

You call that "exploitation."  In our family, we called that "an entry level job."  And we were glad to get it.

 

And that's where my daughter worked for years and years and years, in order to get enough experience and knowledge that she could one day walk into a fancy, upscale, high-end, celebrity-chef-driven restaurant and be hired immediately on the spot and that very night be serving "big reds" to fancy, upscale, high-end diners who leave fancy, upscale, high-end big fat tips.

 

Every single poll I've ever seen wherein restaurant servers are asked if they want to change the system, the overwhelming majority say "no."  As for the "job lock" of all of these poor, exploited servers, it seems to me that there are restaurants on practically every corner of every town in the nation.  It's easy enough to take advantage of the many, many choices open to servers.  The most obvious option is to switch and work BOH.  Or if they don't like the restaurant/management/system, etc. where they're currently working, they can quit and go work at another restaurant. 

 

Or, they can do what countless servers (and my kids and I) have done - work hours that suit your schedule and go to school and learn to do something else.

 

Now, just to be clear, I'm not saying that I, personally, am or am not in favor of the current system. 

 

But I am saying that it definitely has its advantages and benefits and its enthusiastic supporters and if the majority of servers decided to end it, end it would.


Edited by Jaymes, 15 July 2014 - 08:54 AM.

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#283 fvandrog

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 08:22 AM

But the truth is that most servers like the current system just fine.


But then, why do we hear so many complaints here about customers that tip badly?

I'd say bad tippers are part of the system, you can't have your cake and eat it too....

#284 gfron1

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 08:40 AM

But then, why do we hear so many complaints here about customers that tip badly?

I'd say bad tippers are part of the system, you can't have your cake and eat it too....

For the same reason we hear about getting a bad mortgage rate, a bad deal on a car, a bad contract...we all shoot for the ideal 20% tipper but you get the 10% tippers too.  I don't think I've yet to work in a perfect industry.


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#285 Edward J

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 07:10 PM

 But the truth is that most servers like the current system just fine.  If they didn't, there'd be a big revolt, and that would be that.

 

 

 

Oh dear, I was afraid of that.

 

It's not servers who make the hospitality industry go round and round.

 

It's the customers.

 

No customers, no industry.  Same as every other industry.

 

And the customers don't like forking out 20% in tips or even higher, nor do they like the fact that someone lobbied to get servers paid a "tipping wage".


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#286 Beebs

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:02 PM

Link.

 

Here's a link to an update on a local restaurant that had a no-tipping/higher-wages concept but had to revert back to the traditional model due to customer demand.

 

In order for the no-tip concept to be viable, they had to price their menu about 18% above the norm for the area.  Customers didn't go for this, didn't like that they didn't have a say on tipping.  At some point, the restaurant would have priced themselves out of the market. The owner and a hospitality expert mentioned in the article both suggested that this no-tip model is way ahead of it's time.

 

 

 

 



#287 huiray

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 08:30 PM

Link.

 

Here's a link to an update on a local restaurant that had a no-tipping/higher-wages concept but had to revert back to the traditional model due to customer demand.

 

In order for the no-tip concept to be viable, they had to price their menu about 18% above the norm for the area.  Customers didn't go for this, didn't like that they didn't have a say on tipping.  At some point, the restaurant would have priced themselves out of the market. The owner and a hospitality expert mentioned in the article both suggested that this no-tip model is way ahead of it's time.

 

Sad, isn't it.

 

It fits the concept here of the mostest for the leastest $$$, everything else be damned.