Food servers want a raise, too -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Food servers want a raise, too

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A July 24th minimum wage increased to $7.25, but for employees who work for tips, the base pay rate hasn't increased in 18 years.

Waiters and waitresses have had their wages frozen at $2.13 and hour since 1991. In southwest Georgia, some of those employees say it's time for a change. A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would nearly double that wage, but employers say those tipped employees typically do better than minimum wage workers.

At Austin's Barbeque and Oyster Bar employees like the hostess and kitchen staff make minimum wage but servers pay checks often depends on the service they give. Kayla Bagley does both, but prefers her tips.

"I prefer kind of doing the server because it seems like I make more because I have money in my pocket, but then I'm pretty much making the equal amount both ways," said Kayla Bagley, an Austin's server and hostess.

The recent minimum wage increase has affected Austin's bottom line, and has owner Austin Newman considering paying more of his employees a tipped wage.

"The servers are seating their own customers and they're busing their own tables so we cut out a couple of the $7.25 an hour positions and let the $2.13 an hour positions make up for it," said Austin's Owner, Austin Newman.

If his servers don't provide good service he has to make up the difference, but most average between ten to twelve dollars an hour.

"$2.13 plus tips has to equal 7.25 an hour on their claim tips share. We do have to meet some kind of minimum wage requirement," said Newman.

Long time server Deny Bass who's works at another restaurant has been serving food for 33 years and because tipped wages haven't increase, her bottom line hasn't improved in 18 years.

"If they're not forced to pay more than $2.00 an hour or $2.13 then they're not going to pay more than $2.13," said Deny Bass, a waitress.

She hopes customers continue their generosity even during these tough times.

"If you get the service and you get taken care of maybe you want to take that into consideration," said Bass.

And that the federal government doesn't forget wages for tipped employees next time they approve a wage increase.

A Maryland Representative introduced legislation that would raise the minimum wage for tipped employees to $3.75 nationwide. States that don't follow the federal wage rates face losing federal funding for projects.

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