NJ lawmakers want minimum wage for tipped workers
New Jersey's 193,000 tipped workers should be earning the same minimum wage as all other workers in the state, according to some legislators.
Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter said legislation she introduced in January, which calls for the state to increase the hourly rate for servers and other tipped workers, is being revised to eliminate the tipped minimum wage altogether.
"The goal is to bring these wages in line with individuals who are not tipped workers," Sumter said.
Under her proposal — the details of which are still being finalized — tipped workers' wages would gradually increase over a period of at least eight years.
At a press conference Monday morning, Sumter said 11.5 percent of New Jersey's tipped workers fall under the poverty line.
Wage-hike advocate New Jersey Policy Perspective said New Jersey's tipped wage has been stuck at $2.13 since 1991 — the value of which has eroded to $1.15 with inflation.
NJPP said the seven states without a tipped minimum wage experience lower rates of poverty.
"One fair wage also promotes workplace safety as it eliminates dangerous power dynamics that leave tipped workers vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse," said Brandon McKoy, NJPP Director of the Government and Public Affairs.
There are protections in place for New Jersey's tipped workers who fail to earn the general minimum wage on a slow day. Current law requires that employers make up the difference.
Debate over raising New Jersey's minimum wage to $15 has excluded tipped workers. in 2016, then-Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation to implement the hike.
In an emailed statement following Monday's event, Gov. Phil Murphy thanked Sumter and her colleagues for their efforts "to ensure a fair and livable wage for all working New Jerseyans."
Murphy said he looks forward to passing a wage hike by the end of the year. Senate President Stephen Sweeney has said a deal this year is unlikely.
The state's current minimum wage of $8.60 per hour will rise to $8.85 on Jan. 1.