Illinois Restaurant Association Opposes Effort To Eliminate Minimum Wage For Tipped Workers

Mike Krauser
November 12, 2019 - 1:05 pm

CHICAGO (WBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Illinois Restaurant Association and other hospitality organizations are strongly opposing an effort in the Chicago City Council to eliminate the $6.40-an-hour minimum wage for tipped workers and include them in the $15-an-hour ordinance.

“This initiative is an attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist," said Norman Bolden, owner of Norman’s Bistro, on 43rd Street, along with other owners, servers and bartenders speaking out against the initiative.    

Sam Toia is the President of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

“No tipped employee can ever earn less than Chicago’s $13 minimum wage through the combination of their wages and tips," Toia said.

That's the law, he said, and it will go to 15 an hour in 2021 under the ordinance.  

Servers and bartenders said they typically make more, in the range of $19-25 an hour, which the IRA said is the average in Chicago.   

Virginia Bills has been a server for 25-years.

“Raise Chicago is not a solution. It is a disaster waiting to happen," Bills said.

Those in support, they said, aren’t educated on the issue.   

Owners said profit margins are 3-to-5-percent and this amounts to a 144-percent labor increase.  

Restaurants will close, they said, wages will go down, employees will be cut and menu prices will go up.  

Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who backs the Raise Chicago effort, has said it makes moral sense.