How would eliminating the tip credit impact local restaurants?

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Like many servers and bartenders, Chris Casis makes most of his money through tips.

“That’s how we make our living,” he told News 4 while bartending at Bar Louie in Buffalo.

“You shoot for $100 a shift and I feel like you make at least that, or at least I do.”

A proposal by Gov. Cuomo would do away with the state’s tip credit, and instead boost the minimum wage for service industry workers.

The goal of the proposal is improve economic equality in New York State; Cuomo has said the tip credit disproportionately affects women and people of color in the service industry.

Economist at Buffalo State Fred Floss said the proposal does provide a safety net for workers.

“The risk of having a bad night and getting no tips and therefore making way less than minimum wage go away. It does put the risk then on the employer; the restaurant, the bar,” Floss said.

Floss believes servers and bartenders in small towns or rural areas may stand to benefit more from the elimination of the tip credit.

Those who regularly work busy nights and land big tips, like Casis, could lose money if patrons stopped tipping.

“I’d probably have to move back in with my parents.”

Right now a server or bartender in Western New York makes $7.50 an hour.

Their tip credit is $2.90, which means right now they need to make at least that much in tips per hour, or their employers has to make up the difference.

Making that $2.90 an hour has never been an issue for Casis. He fears eliminating the tip credit will stop his patrons from tipping.

The New York State Department of Labor will host open hearings on this issue, where both employees and employers and voice their concerns. Dates and times for those hearings have yet to be announced.

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