Since my days as an at-large faith community member of Portland Jobs with Justice in the late 1990’s, I’ve been a recepient of the weekly Oregon AFL-CIO Legislative Update. Hot in the news is the effort to roll back the minimum wage, particularly for tip-earners. These folks, primarily the 24,000 waitstaff and 25,000 bartenders, maids and porters, earn no more than minimum wage in Oregon (currently $7.25 adjusted for inflation) plus tips. Two Portland based restaurant owners, Lisa Schroeder of Mother’s Bistro and Mama Mia Trattoria and Rod Brackenbury and Terry Hughes of the politico-popular Cadillac Cafe are leading the charge citing the high earnings of their servers as a reason why the legislature should freeze the pay for all minimum wage servers in Oregon.
Honestly I am appalled, but not suprised. This was going on when I was an intern for Senator Joyce Cohen and Representative Kate Brown (now in the Senate) in 1993 and 1995. In Colorado where I moved following graduation from the University of Oregon my housemate Yael earned $2.13/hour as a waitress which amounted to about 12 cents after taxes with the Tip Penalty Law similiar to what Oregon Republicans and Oregon Restaurant Association are lobbying for.
I am appalled because here you have two successful and probably above-average financially owners attempting to set policy that will ultimately affect thousands of workers in minimum wage (mind you not a ‘living wage’ which for Oregon is roughly $11/hour for a single person family) and cut their real income 10-20-30%. Write yo legislator, it does make a difference (or call).