If You Live in a Red State, the Trump Administration Wants to Steal Your Tips

The Trump administration has proposed a new rule that allows restaurant owners to collect all tips and then distribute them among both tipped and nontipped employees:

The proposal would help decrease wage disparities between tipped and non-tipped workers…such as restaurant cooks and dish washers. These “back of the house” employees contribute to the overall customer experience, but may receive less compensation than their traditionally tipped co-workers.

Isn’t that sweet? Trump is looking out for cooks and dishwashers, the hardworking, unsung heroes who keep our nation’s restaurants going. But perhaps you think maybe there’s more going on here? I don’t know what’s made you so cynical about our president, but just this one time you’re right. The Economic Policy Institute has done some calculations, and Eli Day reports on the fine print:

Here’s the rub: The rule doesn’t actually require that employers share those tips with untipped staff. Under the proposal, employers can pocket those tips as long as workers earn the minimum wage….According to EPI’s estimates, employers across the country are likely to pocket $5.8 billion worth of employees’ wages if the rule goes through, in addition to an estimated $50 billion in wage theft already occurring nationwide.

Here’s the funny thing: the Department of Labor is required by law to produce an estimate of the amount of tips that will be transferred from workers to employers under the proposed rule. But they didn’t. Is that because it’s impossible? Not at all: EPI includes a mind-numbingly complete appendix that explains their methodology—methodology that could easily be used by DOL’s wonks to create their own assessment. The problem, of course, is that DOL doesn’t want to produce an official document that suggests their rule will lead to billions of dollars in lower wages for working-class restaurant servers. So they didn’t. That’s the Trump way, after all. He’s a hero of the working class, haven’t you heard?

Anyway, this rule will affect different states differently, since some states have their own rules that protect tipped workers. Servers in blue states like California, Illinois, and New York have little to worry about. But the folks in red states who voted for Trump are about to get screwed big time. On average, servers in these states will lose nearly half of their tip income under the new rule—and that’s after accounting for their increased minimum wage. Here’s a map. Read it and weep.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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