Minimum wage increase to affect servers

Kayla Boyd

It’s an issue that hasn’t been addressed in the past 23 years. And to waitress and WKU graduate Jessica Ford, it won’t help the way everyone thinks it will.

The issue at hand is minimum wage for servers and waiters. The national minimum wage for servers sits uncomfortably low at $2.13 per hour.

Waitresses are forced to live entirely off tips, as their paycheck goes directly to taxes.

“Most servers have to pay in at the end of the year because that $2.13 doesn’t cover all of their taxes,” Ford said. “We have to pay up to $500 at the end of the year.”

An NPR article published on Feb. 11 stated that a bill Obama sponsored in last month’s State of the Union address would raise minimum wage for tipped workers to $7.07 per hour.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for food and beverage serving workers was $8.84 per hour in 2012.

For Bowling Green senior Sarah Ashby, it doesn’t pan out.

“I definitely live paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “I also live in a very cheap apartment. If I lived in a regular $250 a month apartment, I don’t know that I could afford it.”

A server at Yuki Japanese Restaurant, Ashby said an increase in minimum wage for waiters would probably cause privately owned restaurants to raise menu prices or decrease kitchen workers’ salaries to compensate.

“Bartenders get a percentage of our alcohol sales and regular wages plus tips from the bar,” Ashby said. “I feel they work less for more.”

Ford said an increased minimum wage would probably make people want to get a serving job, expecting more money. However, in Ford’s experience, employee turnover is small.

Servers usually have to tip out their busers and bartenders too, Ford said.

Whitney Gutermuth, a Louisville junior who works at Olive Garden with Ford, said it’s very important to tip your server when you dine out.

“We’ve taken gratuity off our checks so large parties don’t always tip us because it isn’t included on their bill,” Gutermuth said.

“I do live off my tips so sometimes I have to cut back on my spending,” Ford said.

When it comes down to it, even an increase in minimum wage for servers won’t put them on the same playing field as other jobs with a higher minimum wage increase. Ashby, Gutermuth and Ford all stressed the importance of tipping your server.

“People need to be more considerate in general,” Gutermuth said. “Not everyone’s going to be an excellent server, but they could be having a bad day. You never know.”