Council Member Francisco Moya to file resolution calling on the New York State Department of Labor to eliminate the tipped minimum wage and raise the tipped workers up to state minimum wage.

CITY HALL, NY — Council Member Francisco Moya, Assemblywoman Ari Espinal, organized labor groups and worker’s rights organizations called on the New York State Department of Labor to eliminate the tipped credit and raise all tipped workers up to the state’s full minimum wage on Tuesday.

“The livelihoods of restaurant servers, car wash workers, nail salon employees or any tipped worker should not be dependent on tolerating sexual harassment and discrimination but our two-tiered minimum wage system incentivizes silently suffering these indignities,” Council Member Francisco Moya said. “It’s time for New York to join the seven other states that have eliminated the tipped credit and providing tipped workers with the stability that comes from being guaranteed a living wage.”

Tipped workers are twice as likely as other working New Yorkers to live in poverty, they are half as likely as other private sector employees to have health insurance, and workers in the service industry record more sexual harassment complaints than any other industry in the United States. That is why Council Member Moya will be introducing a resolution at City Hall on Sept. 12 calling on the Department of Labor to eliminate the “tipped credit” and raising all tipped employees up to the state’s full minimum wage. Doing so ensures that those workers will earn a stable living wage and can avail themselves of basic worker’s rights like protections against misconduct like wage theft and harassment.

“Women in America are more likely to be poor than men, and over half of the 37 million Americans living in poverty today are women. Too many women work in jobs that depend on tips, keeping them in poverty,” said Susan Zimet, Chair of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP). “Too many women are forced to deal with sexual harassment from their bosses and the customers they serve but are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. All workers deserve to get paid a living wage for the work they provide. All workers deserve to be in a safe environment where your wage is not dependent on a low cut neckline and a short hem skirt. We need One Fair Wage immediately.”

“New York’s two-tiered wage system fuels poverty, harassment, discrimination and wage theft. Forcing restaurant, car wash and nail salon workers to rely almost entirely on tips to survive is simply wrong. Fortunately, there is a better way,” said Catherine Barnett, Director of Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York. “New York must be a leader in the fight for One Fair Wage and join the seven states that have already phased out the tipped subminimum wage – resulting in gains for workers across the board. We applaud Council Member Moya and his colleagues on the New York City Council for their leadership on this issue.”

“Raising the subminimum wage to the general minimum wage for New York’s tipped workers will be a step towards the end to modern-day slavery,” said Martha Maffei, Executive Director at SEPA Mujer. “For too long, minorities, and in particular immigrants, have endured hard labor with little to no compensation under an old and outdated broken system. A subminimum wage increases gender pay inequity. It also forces countless women to endure sexual harassment, labor abuse, wage and tip theft and depend on seasonal work to get by. The immigrant workers of the East End of Long Island continue to be underseen and long forgotten. Let us not forget the immigrant workers that make luxurious vacations happen but are still there long after the holiday. We come forward today in representation of all Latina Immigrant women and girls of the East End of Long Island who continue to be exploited for seasonal work and depend on tips to sustain them through the long hard winter. No one deserves a subminimum pay!”

“We want to thank Council Member Moya and his colleagues for introducing this resolution to support New York’s tipped workers and proclaim that it is time to end the State’s broken two-tiered wage system,” said Sherry Leiwant, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance. “It’s time for One Fair Wage so that the nearly 400,000 tipped workers in New York State no longer need to routinely endure discrimination and harassment in order to provide for their families. We have a chance to end the culture of sexism and abuse within these industries and to ensure that all workers in New York City and New York State are making a fair, living wage, and work in an environment of dignity and fairness.”

“No worker should have their livelihood threatened because they didn’t smile enough or prostrate themselves before a customer,” said Deborah Axt, co-director of Make The Road NY. “We’ve heard enough horror stories about the conditions tipped employees are forced to work under to know that this two-tiered system must end. We Thank council member Moya for his long-standing work on this issue and for standing up today to call on the Department of Labor to bring all tipped workers up to the full minimum wage.”

Tipped workers are service providers; they should not be mistaken for servants. They deserve the same protections all workers are owed.