Monday, March 28, 2005

A Disincentive for Good Service

A few weeks ago readers of our local newspaper, the Statesman Journal, were treated to a delightful series of rants by several tightwads in the Letters to the Editor section. The topic focused on waitresses/waiters and whether or not they deserved to be tipped.

These conservative writers reasoned that tips should only be offered to those who go up and beyond the call of duty. General service should not necessarily be rewarded because that is what the hourly wage is for.

So, it would seem that the narrow-minded among us support the concept of providing cash incentives -- tips -- for those hardworking and industrious folks who serve us food and drink.

Aah, but not so fast. The forever-conservative Oregon Restaurant Association (ORA) is pushing several bills in the current session of the legislature which would penalize these same workers for busting their butts. One bill in particular, HB 2049, establishes a threshold of which, if reached, allows the restaurant owner to reduce the amount of the worker's minimum wage by 20 cents per hour.

If passed, this wonderful piece of legislation would go hand-in-hand with another bill that seeks to freeze the minimum wage and not allow for voter-approved annual cost of living increases.

According to the ORA,
HB 2409 attempts to remedy the lack of a tip wage in Oregon and is also moving forward. With 43 other states and the Federal government recognizing a tip wage, Oregon’s restaurant owners are not asking for special treatment, but rather to level the playing field and stay competitive in attracting new business and growing current establishments.
Here we have the age old argument of "others have low standards, so we should too". Yes, let's drive down wages to the unfathomable levels of other states and the federal government!

So, what is this vaunted threshold, you ask. Believe it or not, it is set at the STAGGERING amount of $30. Not $30 per hour. Not $30 per day. Not even $30 per week. No, it's $30 PER MONTH. Any tip-based workers who receives $30 or more per MONTH in tips becomes subject to the law.

A person would both have to be the laziest worker in the universe AND also the unluckiest not to amass the piddly amount of $30 in a month! (I say unluckiest because, even if the worker is slow, obnoxious and incompetent, some people provide tips with their bill as a matter of habit or principle.)

To look at this another way, a full-time waitress (20 days per month) would have to average LESS THAN $1.50 PER DAY in tips to avoid meeting the threshold. A half-time worker would have to average LESS THAN $3.00 PER DAY. I'm not sure if it's even possible to earn such small amounts in tips per day.

If nothing else, it would seem to serve as a disincentive for good service. Why bust your butt only to have your meager base wage -- folks, no one gets rich on $7.25 per hour -- reduced because of your outstanding efforts? What's the incentive in that?


  1. I am sad to see a man using the name of Tao name in such a way.

    I have been a devotee if the Tao for many years. This person Smith only seeks to divide, not to unite. This person does not understand the oneness of the Tao.

    This man must stop to consider that to attempt self glory through the negative,through malice and separation is denying the Tao and the teachings of the sacred scripts.

    This man Smith is opposed to oneness. He is in need of mending. He is broken.

    Mr. Smith must surely heal the sores he has created, the carbuncles of his words are distasteful to all Tao.

  2. Hmm. Anonymous has posted this same comment before.

    So, are you suggesting that penalizing low wage workers is a strategy to bring about oneness, unity and inclusivity?

    If so, you and I have far different opinions of what unity is all about.


Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.