Q: Are you being served? -- UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Q: Are you being served? -- UPDATE

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2007 at 3:26 PM

A: Not if you backed the compromise by which backers of a minimum wage increase dropped plans for a constitutional amendment with an escalator clause in return for a bump in the minimum wage.

A Senate committee today reneged on the increase as it applies to workers who get a part of their pay in tips in large restaurants. Sen. President Pro Tem Jack Critcher wouldn't even allow opposing voices to be heard as he moved a sop to the restaurant industry out of committee. He called it a "compromise" that the minimum for tip workers will remain at $2.63, but forever. It will no longer be pegged at 42 percent of the full minimum wage. Under this bill, when the minimum wage goes up, tip employees will be mired at the low rate forever and even more dependent on the mercy of a sometimes fickle public.

It's a blatant falsehood, one minimum wage supporter told me, that there was a "compromise" on this bill, as Crticher claimed. But there'll be no free speech in a committee run by Critcher, the self-proclaimed champion of the little guy. Unless the little guy is up against the payday lenders, or restaurant operators or homophobes. Those little guys are on their own in Critcher's World.

UPDATE: Though the minimum wage coalition was split on this Wednesday, AFL-CIO leader Alan Hughes wants it known that the labor organization signed off on the bill, so it can be called a compromise in the sense that a key backer of the minimum wage increase was willing to see this bill passed. Hughes said the bill accomplishes virtually nothing. There'll be no rollback in the minimum for restaurant workers, and though the bill will remove an alternate percentage calculation for restaurant workers compensation, that would have practical effect only if the legislature meets to raise the minimum wage. If history is a guide, that's many years off. The percentage calculation is tied to the state minimum, not the federal minimum.

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