ROC Wants To Destroy New York’s “System of Tipping”

A full-page ad in today’s New York Post exposes the true motives behind the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) and its push to eliminate the tip credit.

(For those not acquainted with the tip credit debate, a primer is available here.)

ROC’s founder, Saru Jayaraman, has been a long-time critic of the popular tipping system in restaurants. She’s variously said that “this system of tipping needs to go,” and even penned a New York Times op-ed titled, “Why Tipping is Wrong.” 

ROC has denied that its true motive in pushing for tip credit elimination is to eliminate tipping entirely,  but the evidence shows otherwise. ROC has praised the “no-tipping” model pioneered by New York restaurateur Danny Meyer–a model that caused Meyer to lose up to 40 percent of his staff. Even more telling, a ROC group described eliminating the tip credit as the first step in moving to “no tips.” 

ROC insultingly suggests that such a move will help “professionalize” the industry–as though servers aren’t already professionals working in the industry by choice. Survey data shows overwhelmingly that servers want to keep the tipping system; 97 percent say they’d take a base wage and tipping over a flat salary. Last year, ROC’s agenda was roundly rejected by thousands of servers in Maine who successfully fought back against a ROC-funded initiative to eliminate the tip credit. 

ROC has used any number of bad arguments in its push to eliminate the tip credit. Its most popular argument is that restaurant sexual harassment in states without a tip credit is half of those with a tip credit. This argument doesn’t pass basic scrutiny; government data shows that California, which doesn’t allow a tip credit, has double the rate of restaurant sexual harassment as New York. ROC has also claimed that eliminating the tip credit is good for restaurant employment–a claim contradicted by numerous empirical studies.