Many bartenders and waiters in Seattle aren't terribly keen on the idea of raising the minimum wage, reports Businessweek. They're concerned that the city's suggested $15 minimum wage - as occurred in the Seattle suburb of SeaTac last year - will be a disincentive for customers to tip generously. Higher food prices (even if only modest) and knowledge that servers are being paid an increased baseline rate could prompt customers to become stingier with their gratuity.
"I have built a life around the current model of tipping," bartender Bridget Maloney told local media. "People are talking about moving to a European system of tipping."
Workers of Maloney's ilk have even started a small campaign dubbed Tips are Wages to get the word out that an increase in the minimum wage would be detrimental to their livelihood. A similar campaign initiated by "small business owners and activists" has also come out against the boost backed by socialist city councilwoman Kshama Sawant among others. Though a deadline to increase the city's minimum wage to $15/hour was reportedly just missed, it hardly means the issue is off the (dining) table.
As Sawant sees it, the wage increase from its current $9.32/hour is of crucial importance, and those opposed to it are engaged in "fear mongering."
"We don't want any worker to be beholden to the mood of the customer on any given day," stated Sawant, suggesting that tips have less to do with good service than customer temperament.
"Superstar" Waiters Don't Represent Everyone
The progressive think tank Puget Sound Sage challenges the POV of Seattle's unusually successful servers - the above-mentioned Maloney just bought herself a vacation to Barcelona - by saying they're far from representative of the typical waiter or bartender.
"The high-end waiters and waitresses are not representative of the full breadth of tipped workers in Seattle," said PSS's Nicole Vallestero Keenan. "In fact, most tipped workers make below $15 an hour."
That includes tips, according to PSS data.
Below: Vancouver superstar server David Lew, voted "Best Waiter" in 2012. Minimum wage boost for thee, but not for he?