The New York State Restaurant Association, a trade group whose members are faced with figuring out how to deal with a 50% wage increase for tipped their workers that went into effect last week, has written to the Governor and legislative leaders asking that they freeze that rate where it is for the next five years if an agreement is reached in 2016 to increase the statewide minimum wage.

The letter, which was signed by more than 100 restaurant owners, notes that current state law requires the Governor to call a wage board for tipped employees every time the statutory minimum wage is increased.

Melissa Fleischut, the association’s President and CEO, wrote:

“Employers in the hospitality industry are being hit with a whopping 50% increase to the tipped wage this week. The industry needs time to adjust to this dramatic increase; this is why we are asking that any increase to the minimum wage exclude tipped employees.”

The wage increase for tipped employees is forcing restaurant owners to figure out ways to deal with significantly higher employee wages. Their options include raising prices, reducing employee hours, eliminating jobs, and using tablets to take orders instead of servers. None of these are good – either for restaurant owners or for their employees.

As this debate gets taken up in 2016, we urge the Governor and the legislative leaders to recognize the unique situation that the restaurant industry finds itself in, and take steps to protect these small businesses throughout our state.