New bill introduced to slow minimum wage increase for tipped workers in Michigan

‘I’m just worried that customers might not tip’

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – There is a new push to slow Michigan’s minimum wage hike for tipped workers after a bill was introduced on Tuesday.

In February, Michigan’s minimum wage is set to jump from $9.87 an hour to about $12. For tipped workers, pay would go from $3.75 per to about $9.

Senator Wayne Schmidt (R) of Northern Michigan introduced a bill that could change that for tipped workers on Tuesday.

Daylyn Huff works as a server at a Royal Oak restaurant and she says an increased wage has its benefits.

“Especially on slow days, slow seasons, like early summer or early winter seasons,” says Huff.

She also has concerns, like what a pay closer to minimum wage means for tips from customers.

“I’m just worried that they (customers) might not tip, you know, that 10%, that 20% that servers do deserve for providing a service,” says Huff.

John Sellek, a spokesperson for Save Michigan Restaurants, says the organization recently surveyed more than 300 servers and bartenders across the state.

“What they reported in the survey is they already averaged $25 per hour now and percentages of them say they make up to $40 or $50 an hour,” Sellek says.

The study also revealed 79% of those tipped workers say the current tipping system works well for them and shouldn’t be changed. 75% of workers surveyed believe they will earn less money if the tip credit is eliminated and roughly half of the respondents believe tips will be eliminated completely.

Sellek says another major concern is that locally-owned restaurants will suffer.

“If in one day, basically in February, they have to increase their labor payments over 200%. That money has to come from somewhere and it’s either going to drive a restaurant out of business, it’s going to cause them to reduce the hours of their workers, it will cause them to reduce the kind of services,” says Sellek.

In September, Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association surveyed more than 300 restaurants and hotel operators across the state.

Results show, to offset the increased costs, 91% would increase prices, 58% would lay off employees and 36% would reduce operating hours.

Here is a closer look at the survey results.

Sellek believes the bill introduced Tuesday can help find some sort of common ground. “It’s the first step in finding a compromise to save the system as it is today, the system that the servers and bartenders want to keep,” he says.

There will be a Court of Appeals hearing on Dec. 13, regarding the 2018 decision that initiated the change in wages for tipped workers.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.