Ordinance would change how employers pay restaurant servers
by BRIAN NADIG
A proposed city ordinance would increase the minimum wage for tipped restaurant and bar servers to $15 an hour by 2021 and eliminate the tip credit.
Currently servers are paid $6.40 an hour along with their tips. In those instances in which a server does not average least $13 an hour, which is the current minimum wage, the restaurant must make up the difference.
Under the proposed ordinance, the tip credit would be eliminated since the base pay for servers would become $15 an hour.
"Eliminating the tip credit means employers will eventually be required to pay their tipped employees 144 percent more than current levels," Illinois Restaurant Association president Sam Toia said in a news release. "The current system works for employees, customers and restaurants."
A new state law would increase the base pay for serves to $9 an hour over a 6-year period, but the city ordinance would supersede the state law in Chicago.
A different member of the association recently said that the state law is more reasonable and that the proposed city ordinance could force many restaurants to change their concept, eliminating servers in favor of having patrons order and pay at a counter.
Some proponents have argued that restaurants can raise their menu prices to make up for the higher wages but "would you want to pay $20 for a hamburger in Jefferson Park?" the association member said.
In September, Alderman Sophia King (4th), the main sponsor of the ordinance, told the Hyde Park Herald, "Tipped wages are rooted in racism. … Not only racism but sexism, wage theft, all types of negative and adverse effects. Having a dependable wage also means also that you’ll have dependable employees."
More than 30 aldermen have signed on as a co-sponsor of the ordinance and Mayor Lori Lightfoot had said in the past that she supports raising the minimum wage.