As Republican endorsed candidate for governor Tom Emmer prepares to meet with waiters at Ol’ Mexico restaurant this week, we are discovering more damage control. EmmerTruth.com takes on a lot of reporting on the tip credit, including ours. Emmer repeatedly said he does not want to lower workers’ wages, but (on May 2, 2005 2:15:00 into this clip ) Emmer proposed abolishing the minimum wage. Emmer withdrew the amendment after clearly stating “this would repeal the state minimum wage” sources say because Republicans told him it was not a good idea. We obtained this recent message House Republican Minority Leader Kurt Zellers sent out to members:
Recently the press has been reporting on comments from Rep. Emmer regarding the implementation of tip credit in Minnesota. This email includes information on the issue as well as some talking points.
You should know that the House Republican Caucus has generally supported a reasonable compromise on the tip credit issue. When talking about tip credit, keep in mind the issue is not one that plays well with the general public, as they are sympathetic to restaurant servers.
A lot of the discussion has focused on tip credits reducing the wages paid to servers. Implementing a tip credit does not mean wages have to be reduced. A compromise could be worked out that would keep tipped employee wages at current law. The Minnesota Restaurant Association has advocated a proposal that does not cut server wages. The last time there was a tip credit vote on the House floor was in 2005. Rep. Gunther offered an amendment to SF3 (Rukavina) Minimum wage increased – the summary is attached. His amendment actually increased the minimum wage for tipped employees, just not as high as for non-tipped employees.
I would suggest that if your constituents raise the issue of tip credit, you could talk about finding a reasonable compromise between employers and employees. In addition, I would recommend focusing the discussion on the hardship the state places on small businesses. A prime example is when the state taxes them on the tips their employees earn (in the form of unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance) but doesn’t allow those same tips to be counted as wages when calculating minimum wage. If we don’t find a way to make Minnesota less burdensome on businesses, more servers are going to have their pay reduced – to zero – when they become unemployed because their employer cannot succeed.
Also, don’t let anyone question your commitment to standing up for workers, no matter how much they make. You helped prevent them being hit with an income tax increase, a sales tax increase, a clothing tax, a higher tax on beer and cigarettes, and even a tax on iTunes music. You also preserved their mortgage interest deduction, K-12 tax credit, and their child care credit. Because of your unwavering commitment to protecting taxpayers, they are able to keep more of their wages and their tips and still claim their credits at tax time. No one on the other side of the aisle can make that claim.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Representative Kurt Zellers 32B
House Minority Leader
267 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155