Thursday, June 14, 2018

Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President: 'Sarah Jessica Parker Could Not Be More Wrong'

NAN, Community Leaders Say Actress's Support for Ending
Tipped Wage Credit Threatens Employees, Restaurant Owners

New York, NY – Minister Kirsten John Foy, the Northeast Regional Director for the National Action Network (NAN), today joined with Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jessica Walker, and local restaurant owners to urge Sarah Jessica Parker to abandon her campaign to end New York State’s tipped-wage credit.

The State Department of Labor is currently holding a series of hearings on eliminating the tip credit, which a majority of industry-experts agree would close restaurants and put servers out of work.

New York State allows tipped workers to be paid a lower minimum wage, but they must earn at least the full minimum wage when you include tips. (The difference between the tipped wage and the full minimum wage is called the tip credit.) The tip credit allows restaurant owners to keep labor costs down, while keeping it affordable for people to dine out.

Eliminating the tip credit will force employers to pay the full minimum wage, significantly increasing business costs, while actually reducing the pay that workers receive. Experts believe the elimination of the credit will result in restaurant closures, job losses, lower wages, and higher prices for customers.          

“Sarah Jessica Parker could not be more wrong. She may have eaten at some of New York’s best restaurants, but that doesn’t make her an expert in this industry,” Chamber President Walker said. “Eliminating the tipped-wage credit will cost jobs, restaurants will close, and unemployment will rise. We’re here today to stop ‘SJP’ from making a terrible error in the name of working men and women who don’t need it, don’t want it, and never asked for it!”

Late last month, Parker chose to relocate an exclusive $50,000 per table fundraiser to end the credit when the location was publicly revealed. Rather than meet with restaurant employees and take input from the people who work in the field every day, Parker chose to hide her event and only listen to the most radical voices on the subject. Ending the tipped-wage credit failed miserably in other states (Maine), and the legislature quickly had to pass a new law to stop the bleeding. 

“Rather than hold secret fundraisers, Ms. Parker should take some time to listen to these restaurant workers and owners,” Minister Foy said. “I have been a champion for the ‘Fight for 15,’ but I took the time to listen to the owners and workers in this industry. They don’t want their pay capped by the minimum wage and they certainly don’t want to lose their jobs because restaurants will close. They opened my eyes and that’s why I am here today, standing for and with them.”

Alfredo Angueria owner of Bronx Drafthouse and Beatstro said, “Running a restaurant is tough enough, and eliminating the tip credit will push a lot of small business owners to either cut jobs or close all together. The only restaurants left standing will be those few that survive will make enormous.”

Ruben Rodriguez President of GRC Restaurant Partners, parent company of Havana CafĂ©, said, “This isn’t about denying employees who ward hard every day access to a fair, living wage. We have men and women who have worked for us for years. We know them and their families.  We’re here fighting to save jobs and businesses that help make up the character of your neighborhood.”

“This is about fighting to save business we’ve worked tirelessly to build in New York City. Slowly developing concepts, hiring the right people, finding the right space, and at the end of the day bringing it all together and hoping we got it right,” said Petrushka Bazin Larsen co-owner of Sugar Hill Creamery. “This is about stopping policy-makers from making a terrible error in the name of working men and women who don’t want it. It’s a misguided effort that will only result in unbearable costs, empty commercial real estate, and longer unemployment lines.”

The Department of Labor has previously held five hearings across New York (Long Island, Watertown, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Albany). The response has been overwhelming. Thousands of servers have attended the hearings, submitted testimony, and called their legislators to tell them to keep the credit. 

There are two more scheduled hearings regarding the tipped wage credit: June 19 at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, and June 27 at Hunter College in Manhattan.

Source: Mercury

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