National Consumers League

National Consumers League commends tipped worker protections in omnibus

March 27, 2018

Contact: NCL Communications, Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2831

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is hailing a provision in the omnibus spending bill—signed into law this past weekend—that protects the tips workers receive and bans employers from claiming them. Restaurant workers suffer some of the lowest wages in America and depend on tips to keep their incomes at least at minimum wage. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta had previously proposed a new rule that would permit restaurant owners to pocket the tips of millions of restaurant and service workers—a shocking example of a legal form of wage theft.

Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and president of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) — an NCL ally and friend who is speaking at the 80th Anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act conference this Wednesday at Georgetown Law Center—led the charge, working with partners and submitting more than 350,000 comments in opposition to the proposed rule. ROC and National Employment Law Project helped to organize testimony on Capitol Hill and rallies at local Department of Labor and National Restaurant Association offices across the country. Facing bipartisan pressure and overwhelming public disapproval, Acosta eventually agreed to work with both sides of the aisle to support the TIP Act.

“These victories are the result of intense organizing, advocacy, and—in this case—shaming those who were ready to hand over tips to employers,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s executive director. “Without this organizing and leadership from these heroic groups and key allies in the House and Senate, the Labor Secretary likely would not have changed course.”

Greenberg noted that members of the Democratic minority in the House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing March 6 grilled Acosta about DOL’s intentions on tipped wages. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced legislation after the Secretary said he would support a ban on employers keeping worker tips. That led to the introduction of the TIP Act of 2018.

At least $5.8 billion in workers’ tips, according to a recent study done by the Economic Policy Institute, would have been at risk. NCL thanks these members of the House and Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for their work to get these protections in the Omnibus spending bill. 

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About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit http://www.nclnet.org.