Despite Advancing Bill, Chicago Employees Speak Out Against Tip Credit Elimination

This week, the Chicago City Council’s Workforce Development Committee voted to advance a proposal that would eliminate the tip credit city wide.

This policy has played out disastrously across the country, costing employees their jobs and tips, and even forcing restaurants to shut down. Michael Saltsman, executive director of the Employment Policies Institute, testified on the economic case for preserving the tip credit before the Committee.

But despite the Committee’s push to move forward with tip credit elimination, employees are pushing back, arguing this change to their earnings system will cost them tips and threaten their livelihood in the restaurant industry. Destiny Fox, a server based in Chicago, also spoke to city aldermen about how tip credit elimination would threaten her job and income.

View Michael and Destiny’s testimonies here.

Fox also wrote about her concerns in the Chicago Sun-Times:

“For readers who have never worked in a restaurant, here’s a primer:

The minimum wage in the City of Chicago is $15.80 an hour. Servers and bartenders can be paid a slightly lower base wage of $9.48 but are still legally required to earn at least the full minimum with tips included.

Typically, I bring home two to three times the city’s required minimum wage on an hourly basis. I’m not an outlier: A recent Sun-Times article reported survey results of Chicago restaurant workers. The survey found workers earn an average hourly wage of $28.48 an hour.

Mayor Brandon Johnson and his allies on the City Council want to scrap the current tipping system in favor of a flat minimum wage for all workers. Essentially, I would be treated the same as a cashier at Burger King or a clerk at Kroger — rather than as the tipped professional that I am currently.

They claim that this policy change will have no negative impact on my earnings, but I’ve done my research, and I don’t buy it.”

Read more from Destiny’s op-ed published this week in the Chicago Sun-Times here.

Other employees are sounding off on tip credit elimination too:

“…there’s also a chance that restaurants lay off their servers, and I wouldn’t want the risk of losing my job because the owner can’t afford to pay me.”

“Yeah, it’d be nice to get paid more, but I wouldn’t want that if the owners couldn’t afford it…If I give good service, then people leave tips.”