Bill Under Consideration Could Impact Restaurant Workers

By: Sandra Osborne Email
By: Sandra Osborne Email

Panama City- A new bill under consideration in the Florida Senate could give a boost to local restaurants, but critics say that boost will come at the expense of employees who work for tips.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association lobbied to the senate to consider this bill.

It includes an option for restaurants to cut tipped workers’ minimum wages in half.

The cuts proposed in the bill have a lot of employees concerned, saying they’re already impacted by the bad economy.

“I have between 20 and 40 dollars a day less. If people are making less money, they’re not going to spend as much money,” said Alexis Archer, a server in Panama City Beach.

The legislation would give employers the option to lower tipped workers’ minimum wage from the state standard of $4.65 an hour to $2.13.

“If you have sixty servers working for you, like we do, and every one of them went up a dollar per hour just a year ago, and then another 30 cents and another 50 cents, it’s really impacting us,” said Jack Bishop a restaurant owner in Panama City Beach.

The bill is aimed at helping keep restaurants afloat during these troubled times, but not all workers agree with the idea saying the extra guaranteed two dollars per hour, make a difference.

“It’s an extra 300-400 dollars a month just from the paycheck. If it was to drop, that’d definitely be a big impact on it,” said Archer.

The idea is for workers to make at least an average of $9.98 an hour.
If workers make more, they could have their hourly pay cut.
Those that make less, could receive a little more.

“The bill is really to hold it steady. It’s not so much to roll back the clock as much as it is to hold it so that we don’t have this appreciation every year,” said Bishop.

This bill still has to go to the full senate for a vote and the house does not have a companion bill under consideration.

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  • by Mike Location: Cape Coral on Feb 21, 2012 at 07:20 PM
    Elizabeth Smith is rumored to get a substantial bonus - in the 10s of millions - if she can take OSI back public and get a big payday from an IPO. OSI is behind this bill. They want to attract investors for their public sale - and they want to do it on the backs of their employees. Not only that, but they are going to try and give every waiter/busser out there in FL a $2.49/hr pay cut. The rationale? The server's are already making enough money and restaurants are suffering under the heavy weight of $4.65 an hour. How absurd. A waiter's paycheck, under most circumstances, covers his/her tax withholding to a substantial degree. This bill will hang these folks out to dry to the IRS - as they will be forced to come out of pocket thousands every April. For a server making $25K writing a yearly check for $5000 really stings. It would render the profession unsustainable for most servers - who we all know are mostly comprised of young people. Elizabeth Smart and the primary shareholders of OSI are really playing dirty pool here. Their claim of the restaurant failure rate is laughable - Bloomberg says it's about 60% which is not really much different then other business genres. All this boils down to is OSI being able to flex their strength in a time of little political accountability - with a Governor who is likely to sign anything that smells strongly of austerity and is "Pro-Business". It should be noted that this sordid scheme has caught the attention of many and the general consensus is a very strong disapproval of politicians and their donors who conspire to take from the poor and give to themselves.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 22, 2012 at 02:55 PM in reply to Mike
      "It would render the profession unsustainable for most servers" If thats the case then the restaurants will go without servers because no one will be able to afford to be a server. And wouldent the restraunts be the ones shooting them selves in the foot if this goes through? Good servers, can make a decent living, but like i said before, they wont do it serving pancakes and eggs to drunken college students at 2:00 am, at the local greasy spoon. If they are serving in a decent steak house or sea food restaurant, most of the time the average tip for serving a table of 4 should be around 12-15 bucks per table. Serve (a low estimate here) 6-8 tables an hour, and they should come away with about 95-120 dollars in tips per hour. With the average dinner service lasting about 3 hours, the server could have served 18-24 tables in that amount of time, i would say that should earn the server a conservative 275 in tips for 3 hours of work, to me that makes for a good nights pay..
  • by Eric Location: Panama City on Feb 20, 2012 at 12:21 PM
    I think this bill is ridiculously obvious about who it will benefit. The resturaunt owners and the little guys get the shaft. If it comes before the House Patronis should not vote due to conflict of interest.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 21, 2012 at 02:58 PM in reply to Eric
      Your right Eric. Everyone of them who is eligible to vote on this, who is connected to a restaurant should be barred from voting on this due to conflict of interest.
  • by AF Vet on Feb 20, 2012 at 09:39 AM
    Lol Dave, wake up man. This was a GOP member that sponsored this bill. They control the committee and it passed. If you think this was a conspiracy against another party, your in absolute denial dude....
    • reply
      by DaveV on Feb 21, 2012 at 02:58 PM in reply to AF Vet
      Honestly, I think both parties are out for themselves and do not care about the people they represent. It's also not that far fetched to think that the parties don't make underhanded maneuvers in order to make the other party look bad.
  • by Soap Box Guy Location: Florida on Feb 20, 2012 at 06:29 AM
    Tips - To insure proper service. Their hourly wage in 2012 is $4.65 minus normal taxes, and 8% of your final dinner bill is taxed and deducted from their paycheck also. Do not blame your waitress or waiter for something the Cook did or did not do, which is out of the server’s control. If you do not leave at least a 15% TIP for good service, they will remember YOU, the next time you come in...
  • by Ray Location: Port St. Joe on Feb 20, 2012 at 06:21 AM
    Waitresses, Waiters & Servers have a lot more to do than just bring your food to you when the cook or chef has it ready. Before the restaurant is open each day, they come in early to get everything ready. They cut the butter into pats, wrap the silverware in napkins, cut tomatoes, tear the lettuce, etc. for the salads, make different salad dressings, ensure the tables are clean, make tea, get the coffee ready to be brewed, ensure the milk/orange juice and bread is fresh, take orders, serve drinks, clean up any spills, prepare itemized checks, and clean up after you have left. There is more; these are just some of the things they have to do.
    • reply
      by Mike on Feb 20, 2012 at 11:37 AM in reply to Ray
      You need to SUE this employer under the minimum wage law as employers abuse servers who are only supposed to serve not do minimium wage law duties! This kind of work is not serving and needs to be paid at $7.50 an hour or more. The industry wants it both ways. Cut your pay and make you do other duties except serve. Call the labor board. The GOP has declared war on workers and you need to fight back and vote them all out. You are being abused by them.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 20, 2012 at 02:08 PM in reply to Ray
      Yes, some are required to do these other functions. Now if you will take the time to go and read the actual bill as it is proposed, SB 2710, you will see that the bill is provisioned so that if the waiter/waitress is performing other functions (not bussing tables) the wage reverts to a higher amount. The lower wage amount proposed in this bill only applies to the time when the server is actually performing serving duties.
      • reply
        by Mike on Feb 21, 2012 at 01:14 PM in reply to
        Everyone knows these kinds of bills that SHAFT workers only come from the GOP and their paid crony lobbyists. Leave the system the way it is and give servers a break or a raise not a PAY CUT that only benefits millionaires. The GOP wants to fix things that are not broken, you have to question what their EVIL motive is. The GOP says their for LESS regulation and govt. intrusion and all we see is MORE. The GOP just FORCED mandatory drug tests on the unemployed to collect a check that they and their employers paid insurance for to pass the SS tax extension. We all see what the GOP is really about. More regulation and govt intrusion for LESS pay.
      • reply
        by Adria Underwood on Feb 21, 2012 at 08:42 PM in reply to
        That will never happen. They will make you fit all the other work into the serving so they do not have to pay you any higher. Believe me this is true. Most servers already have to do another job during slow times like wash their own dishes because the higher paid employees get taken off the clock and servers pick up the slack because they get paid lower. Sometimes instead of any support staff that is needed they just make the server do it. How many times have you been sat by your server. Where was the hostess. Not there she actually got paid minimum wage. We have been abused for many years now and I think this will backfire hard. Not only will we stop this because it is now against a constitutional amendment we, the people voted on, but I think we will retaliate and start to demand more money for all we do. Think about that with me fellow servers.
  • by Ray Location: Port St. Joe on Feb 20, 2012 at 06:17 AM
    Your waitress, waiter or Server must pay 8 percent in federal taxes based on your final bill; this 8% comes out of their paycheck! If you cannot afford a decent tip, stay at home and eat! If you do not leave a generous tip, it will cost the server money in taxes to serve you. Yes, they would lose money for being your server and that would not be right! They are on their legs and feet all day; career waitresses will have varicose veins in her legs if she doesn’t wear expensive support hose on her legs! This Bill should NOT be passed!
  • by bob Location: pcb on Feb 20, 2012 at 12:57 AM
    i made $2.00 an hour in retail back in 1974, worked 8 hours and made $16 dollars. i'm sure $20 per 8 hour shift will go a long way to pay bills in 2012. is this stuff serious? Saw a couple give a $1 tip yesterday, had great service by the server. Get out and vote otherwise need to move to China and make $400 a month making ipads. If you don't have at least a 4 year degree u are seen as a loser by some who think u are a servant in all types of jobs.
  • by David Location: pcb on Feb 19, 2012 at 02:41 PM
    The working poor better registar and vote because these folks are going to have them as slaves if they don't.
  • by me Location: PCB on Feb 19, 2012 at 09:50 AM
    So all of the servers wil quit. Then all you rich owners like you will come to eat where i work and have to wait 3 hours due to there not being enough employees. Plus most of the retail business will slow cause most of pcb is restaurants so the locals that spend money more the likely make there living by serving and not to mention we handle your food don't bite the hand that feeds you to make your pockets fat.
  • by Sebastian Location: Jackson Co. on Feb 19, 2012 at 07:05 AM old time way that a patron shows appreciation to the server (employee) for service "above and and beyond the call of duty." By tipping, the customers are actually paying the salary of the establishments employees. In many cases applying a gratuity to the final bill....and soooo...the bottom line is that "WE" the public have been brain washed into automatically tipping servers in restaurants while the servers have been brain washed into believing that the public should give them a tip for bringing them a glass of water. I feel that all employers, especially restaurants, should pay their servers a salary just as all other places of business do.
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