The New York Department of Labor has held seven hearings throughout the state as they carry out Governor Cuomo’s order to consider ending the tipped-wage – which allows service sector workers to earn less than the minimum wage as they earn tips to make up and exceed the difference.

The final hearing took place a couple weeks ago and the deadline for written testimony ended July 1st. After over 40 hours of testimony and hundreds of written comments, including those submitted by Americans for Tax Reform in opposition to ending the tipped-wage, we wait for a decision.

The Department of Labor has the ability to raise the minimum wage for tipped employees without approval from voters or the state legislature. In fact, they already did for employees of the hospitality sector in 2015. Restaurant owners and the employees that would be directly affected by this decision would be robbed of their voice and vote in the matter.

What cannot be lost at this stage of the process is that the push to end the tip credit has been almost entirely driven by narrow special interests and unions. It is a shameless attack on an industry, and the workers that industry employs, for the sole benefit of these interests. It is a campaign devoid of real facts.

The Restaurant Opportunities Center is the group fervently seeking to end the tipped wage.

Perhaps the most egregious example of their dishonest tactics is a letter they send to the Governor. This letter included names of restaurateurs, such as Danny Meyer and James Mallios, without their consent.

If New York State sides with these unscrupulous interests, it will be completely ignoring that the vast majority of restaurant workers and owners testified in favor of the current system, according to Save NY Tips. It would appear they also have not considered that this decision would be “devastating to for communities of color”, as pointed out by Reverend Kirsten John Foy.

It will also drive up costs for consumers, kill jobs, and shut down more affordable restaurants.

Our nations capital, Washington D.C., just passed a similar measure by referendum. Initiative 77 will slowly bring the wage for D.C. tipped workers to the general minimum wage by 2026. ROC United was also outspoken on this initiative, arguing that employers often fail to pay the difference when workers tips do not average to minimum wage. However, data suggests that only five percent of workers are stiffed by their employers.