Campaign to hike minimum wage for restaurant workers gets pushback from owners



(The Center Square) – There is an effort in Illinois and around the country to raise the tipped minimum wage, but there is some pushback.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, tipped employees will make $8.40 an hour in Illinois, but more in Chicago.

The group One Fair Wage is calling on employers to pay the full minimum wage with tips on top. President Saru Jayaraman said the move would attract more workers and has worked in other states.

“Minnesota already passed it decades ago and they have actually higher restaurant sales and small business growth rates than Chicago and Illinois,” Jayaraman told The Center Square.

Her group has launched a national campaign saying workers who earn the tipped minimum wage are more vulnerable to sexual harassment and wage theft.

There is some pushback to the proposal. Illinois restaurant owner Matt Idzikowski told Rockford TV station WTVO the costs would have to be recouped somewhere and most likely would be passed onto the customer.

“Although people are making more money, the cost of the items that they are buying are probably going to go up about the same pace,” Idzikowski said.

In Michigan, the issue has gone to the state’s highest court on whether to increase the state’s minimum wage for hourly and tipped workers.

A restaurant owner there told Bridge Michigan that menu prices will skyrocket.

“I’m going to have to charge a ridiculous price for any single item,” said Roberto Ortega, owner of El Mariachi in Novi. “Their tips are going to decrease because I’m going to have to charge more to the guests.

Others point to California where the minimum wage was hiked to over $15, causing tipped workers to log fewer hours and make less money.

In Chicago, Mayor Brandon Johnson campaigned on the issue, saying low-wage restaurant workers deserve more.

“I see any effort that we put forth as a government to secure the economics for working people certainly places us in a far better position to have a sustainable economy,” Johnson said.

Today, 43 states allow subminimum wages.

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