Health care vs. the tip

Restaurant owners in S.F. are fighting desperately to avoid having to pay for employees health care and have figured out several ways to go about it. Their case against mandatory healthcare charges lost in the court and they now want to take it to the Supreme Court. But now an alternative plan is being suggested–a tip credit that will allow employers to pay less than the city’s minimum wage to waiters who receive tips. Naturally this has caused a battle between the union and the employers over whether the move is necessary to save restaurants from bankruptcy or just another excuse to reduce workers’ wages. The whole issue of tips for service is a troubling one. Supposedly customers pay extra for good service, but actually everyone knows a tip is mandatory, not optional. Tips are uncertain, and as the economy grows worse, some customers may cut back on the tipping which is such an important part of restaurant workers’ pay. Why is it that many other countries can maintain a system of service charges for restaurants while Americans have always insisted on tipping? Wouldn’t it be better to try having a set price for service making cheating on tips and the temptation to evade taxes less likely? Let’s have restaurant costs paid up front to promote fairness in pay and to allow reasonable costs for healthcare for waitstaff.

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