Target: Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie
Goal: Commend minimum wage increase that applies to both tipped and non-tipped workers
The growing conversation about raising the minimum wage tends to ignore a large sector of workers who earn just a fraction of the minimum wage, which most Americans agree is drastically low. Workers whose wages depend primarily on tips are two times as likely to live below the poverty line, and restaurant servers suffer the most with a poverty rate almost three times as high as the rest of the working class. This is because the federal government allows businesses to provide tipped workers much lower wages. For tipped workers, the minimum wage is $2.13, an incredibly low hourly rate that has not been raised for 20 years. For non-tipped workers, however, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. The Department of Labor has found that 84 percent of businesses neglect to make up the difference for tipped workers, despite their obligation to do so.
Recently, Hawaii’s legislators decided to do something about this phenomenon, raising the state’s minimum wage and eliminating the minimum pay gap between tipped and non-tipped workers. The bill requires that businesses up their workers’ pay to $10.10 per hour by 2018. It makes Hawaii the eighth state to mandate that its minimum wage applies to both tipped and non-tipped workers. Business owners have protested these measures on the basis that it will reduce jobs and hike up costs, but a study by ROC United indicates that in states where tipped and non-tipped workers have the same minimum wage, the restaurant industry is seeing higher employment growth, increased sales, and dramatically reduced turnover as compared to other states where tipped workers make much less.
By signing this petition, you are thanking Governor Abercrombie and the Hawaii legislature for recognizing that economies that lift up their lowest-paid workers see the greatest benefits. You are encouraging them to raise their minimum wage for all workers to an even higher standard, as the government has been far too slow in raising wages to meet the standard of living.
Dear Governor Abercrombie,
I am ecstatic that Hawaii’s legislature has raised the minimum wage for all workers, regardless of whether or not they are tipped. Measures like these are shown to have dramatic immediate benefits for the economy and society as a whole, with businesses seeing higher sales, lower turnover, and better employment growth on average in states that close the minimum pay gap between tipped and non-tipped workers.
Thank you for recognizing that lifting up those who earn the least is the most effective way to lift up the entire economy. I urge you to lead the pack among states raising their minimum wage, and press for a higher minimum wage than $10.10 per hour by 2018, as it has already been far too long since the government raised wages to truly reflect the standard of living.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Alan Light via Flickr