EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – “This is an imminent threat in February, we’re going to have to deal with this and I don’t know how I’m going to pay for my rent,” said Riv bartender Gabbie Huhn.
She says her livelihood could be in danger if courts eliminate the current tipped minimum wage.
“Without the tip service wage we would not be in this industry,” she said.
She’s a member of the group Save Michigan’s Restaurants.
They are calling on lawmakers to reform the planned minimum wage increase which would increase the hourly wage from $3.75 an hour to $9.60 for servers.
Sounds good, right?
But Huhn and others say it would actually cut their pay.
“We are finding workers say they are earning on average at least $23 an hour, and some making $30, $40, or $50 an hour… if this court decision stays in place that’s going to disappear,” said Save Michigan’s Restaurants spokesperson John Sellek.
The group says the higher hourly wage will mean fewer tips.
“They’re going to say well we are making the same so why even tip? And then my wages get dropped significantly,” said Huhn.
In an interview last month, supporters of the wage increase said the move will bring workers back to the industry.
“It’s going to be very difficult to convince a lot of the workers that left the industry during the pandemic to return unless the wages reflect how difficult their jobs actually are,” said Roland Leggit, the midwest campaign director for One Fair Wage.
But opponents say they may not have restaurants to go back to.
“We are going to get compounded even more with a mandatory pay that is maybe not even feasible for some of these smaller places,” said Scott Ellis with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.
As for Huhn, she says it’s bad for business.
“It won’t help us and it will only hurt us, so I just ask that they rethink it, and know that as well as their hearts in the right place, it’s not where it needs to be, unfortunately.”