Bill that would eliminate separate minimum wage for tipped workers debated by Illinois lawmakers – NBC Chicago

A bill that would eliminate a separate minimum wage for tipped workers is being debated by Illinois lawmakers, with the bill increasing tipped workers’ hourly wages to the state’s minimum wage, plus tips.

Some in Chicago’s restaurant industry have voiced opposition to the bill.

“I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent,” Fernando Bahen, a waiter at Bar Takito, told NBC Chicago. “I couldn’t afford to live here, especially in the city, because it’s very expensive to live here.”

Bahen has worked as a server at Bar Takito in the West Loop for 10 years, earning $12.50 an hour plus tips.

“If people see that you’re being offered an hourly deal, they’re just not going to want to tip you more,” Bahen said.

Bahen worries that he will earn less money overall even if his hourly wage increases.

Bar Takito owner Mario Ponce also expressed opposition, saying he would have to find a way to continue serving customers if the increase passes.

“We’re going to lose jobs,” Ponce said. “How can we recover perhaps? By increasing prices, but that hurts the consumer.”

Dr. Cornell Darden Jr., president of the Chicago Southland Black Chamber of Commerce, spoke in favor of the measure.

“They shouldn’t have to worry about not having a base salary that they can count on, so I think it’s very important that we end this legacy of slavery,” Darden said.

A similar law was passed in Chicago, giving restaurant owners five years to increase their wages. Ponce said he might be forced to make changes sooner if the bill passes at the state level.

The House Labor and Commerce Committee plans to work with supporters and opponents of the bill before a possible vote in the full House.

NBC Chicago

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