Senators discuss tipped minimum wage

State Sen. Mike Stack last week described the money earned by some restaurant servers and others in Pennsylvania as “practically slave wages.”

Stack, who is running for lieutenant governor, was joined by fellow Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach, who is running for Congress, at a March 12 news conference in the parking lot of the Applebee’s at 9142 Roosevelt Blvd. The lawmakers were joined by speakers from PathWays PA and Women’s Way and activists who carried signs with messages such as, “Workers can’t survive on $7.25.”

That’s the hourly minimum wage in the state and nationally, but not for workers who make tips.

“Tipped employees should make a minimum wage,” Stack said.

In Pennsylvania, tipped employees make as little as $2.83 an hour. One speaker said he makes the tipped minimum pushing travelers in wheelchairs at Philadelphia International Airport. Stack called that figure “indecent” and “obscene.”

“Tipped employees should make a minimum wage,” he said.

Stack and Leach will introduce legislation to end the sub-minimum wage for employees who receive tips and raise the overall minimum wage to $12 an hour. The figured would be tied to inflation and continue to rise yearly.

Stack and Leach rejected last month’s report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which said raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would cost 500,000 jobs.

Some states have higher minimum wages than the federal figure. Washington, for instance, has a wage of $9.32 an hour.

Stack said prices at restaurants are the same in states with different minimum wages. Leach added that San Francisco, with a whopping minimum wage of $10.74 an hour, has a thriving restaurant industry.

The senator said tipped employees are eligible for food stamps.

“This is exploitation of human beings,” Leach said. “They are entitled to their wages.” ••