Last week, labor advocates and religious leaders called for the elimination of the sub-minimum wage for the 230,000 tipped food service and hospitality workers in New York.  In contrast, industry officials argue that such a raise would increase costs and hurt workers by encouraging owners to lay off staff and cut hours.

Earlier this year, Gov. Cuomo directed the state’s Labor Commission to appoint a wage board to consider further increases for tipped workers. The wage board, which held its final public hearing Tuesday in Albany, is expected to make its recommendations to Cuomo in February. Any change would be subject to state legislative approval.

The state minimum wage is due to increase from $8 an hour to $8.75 on Dec. 31. But the minimum wage for restaurant and hospitality workers who earn tips would remain between $4.90 and $5.65 (depending on their classification), with the hourly difference between that rate and the full minimum wage to be paid by employers if tips don’t cover it.

We are very concerned about the possible impacts of a minimum wage increase of this nature.  Many restaurants are small businesses that operate on narrow margins.  We would hate to see these businesses have to operate with fewer employees, or go out of business.