Hillary Clinton has advocated for eliminating tip credits for restaurants.

During a speech in New York at a rally at the Javits Center on Wednesday, the presidential candidate said, “It is time we end the so-called tipped minimum wage,” according to a report in am New York. “We are the only industrialized country in the world that requires tipped workers to take their income in tips instead of wages.”

She said the tipped minimum wage of $2.35 per hour was “shameful.”

New York-based labor group Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which has long advocated for an end to the tip credit, hailed the comment and said the New York State government should follow suit.

“We applaud Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton for coming out strongly in support of the elimination of the tipped minimum wage, and urge New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to follow her lead by abolishing the sub-minimum wage system in New York once and for all,” it said in a statement.

New York’s current minimum wage is $9 per hour. It is one of 43 states that allow employers of tipped workers to pay them less than minimum wage, as long as they make enough tips to make up the difference.

In its statement, ROC called the practice “a destructive, archaic relic of the past that forces restaurant workers — largely women and people of color — to battle disproportionate rates of financial insecurity, poverty, discrimination and sexual harassment.”

Adding that many tipped workers are “barely able to make ends meet,” it quoted Clinton as saying, “No one who works full time should have to still be living and raising their children in poverty.”

The National Restaurant Association disputes that characterization.

“Under the Fair Labor Standards Act no one in the restaurant industry should be making a ‘subminimum’ wage,” the trade association’s spokeswoman Christin Fernandez said in an email. “If an employee’s tips plus their base wage do not equal the federal minimum wage or higher in most states, the employer must make them whole. In fact, our research shows servers make $16 to $22 an hour on average. Tipping is still popular among the American public with over 65 percent saying they would keep the current tipped model in place [according to a nationwide poll conducted in August, 2015].

“With over one million restaurants nationwide, all with varying concepts, a one size fits all policy is unrealistic. Restaurateurs should continue to have the freedom to choose what works best for their business and their workforce whether that's keeping with the current tipped model or trying something new.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2014, the median wage of servers including tips was $9.01 per hour.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Last July, Clinton’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders, introduced legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 — a wage advocated by various labor groups — and gradually eliminate the tip credit by raising the tipped minimum wage by $1.50 each year until it reaches the federal minimum wage.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
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