EDITORIAL: Tip pooling proposal is unfair

Published 3:31 pm Saturday, March 3, 2018

You take your family out to a restaurant and your waitress does a particularly good job, whether from a welcoming attitude, getting your orders right or just going the extra mile ensure you have a good visit.

As a result, you decide to show your appreciation by leaving her a generous tip.

Normally, you would expect that the tip you leave would go to the person who waited on you, and that has been the case.

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But, if a proposed rule change from the U.S. Department of labor is enacted, there is no guarantee that the money goes to your server, or is even distributed to the workers at all.

In December, the Labor Department, under the direction of the Trump administration proposed eliminating the federal rule banning “tip pooling.”

The law, as it stands now, ensures that servers get their tips. But, under the change, employers could take those tips and distribute them as they see fit.

Advocates of the change say this would spread the tips between staff at the front and back of the house in bars and restaurants. However, under the proposal, there is nothing to stop the restaurant from giving them to managers or just keeping them altogether.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, sounded the alarm on the proposal in a conference call with reporters this week. Brown said if advocates really want to ensure people at the back of the house get a boost, then they should call on employers to pay them a living wage.

Brown stressed that tips should go to the person that they are left for and no one else. To illustrate his point, he was joined by Crystal Hale, a waitress at an Ohio Denny’s, who told of the hard work that goes into her job and how the tips help her family to make ends meet.

In Ohio, tipped workers are paid $4.08, less than half of minimum wage, making up the difference in the tips they receive. Tampering with this flow of much-needed income is unreasonable.

The proposal must first undergo a public comment period before it can be enacted.

We hope the administration reconsiders this short-sighted proposal and encourage those who find it unfair to join Brown in speaking out by contacting their lawmakers.