Gov. LePage has been stiffing servers while he works to cut their wages

Gov. LePage has been stiffing servers while he works to cut their wages

In an interview on a Lewiston-area radio station on Tuesday, reported on by the Sun Journal, Maine Governor Paul LePage bragged about tipping restaurant servers less over the past few months in order to scare them into opposing Maine’s new minimum wage law, which was passed by referendum last November. Under the law, the minimum wage for workers who also receive tips was increased for the first time in eight years, from $3.75 to $5 an hour, and will continue to increase gradually over the next decade until it reaches the full minimum wage.

“I cut the tip in half and then I put the comment, ‘Call your legislator,’ on my charge card” said LePage.

LePage’s antics are apparently meant to reinforce a lie spread by some opponents of the minimum wage increase who claim that tips go down when tipped wages increase. That hasn’t been true after previous minimum wage increases in Maine or in states across the country where the tipped minimum wage is already much higher. In seven states that have no sub-minimum tipped wage, customers tip at the same or higher rates and restaurant employment and growth are projected to be stronger than in the rest of the country.

“I’ve worked the exact same job, for the exact same company, Applebees, with the exact same menu prices and California paid me $10.50 plus tips and Maine paid me $3.75 plus tips. There was no difference in the average percentage of what people tipped me. This speaks volumes,” said Ali Monceaux, a restaurant server who spoke at a State House press conference earlier this month.

Data on wages and employment in Maine since the minimum wage increase went into effect in January show rising incomes and an increase in jobs being created, including in the restaurant industry, results that fly in the face of predictions from minimum wage opponents.

LePage himself said that the unemployment rate would skyrocket to 10% if the minimum wage increase passed. Instead, the rate for February fell to 3.2%, the lowest seen in Maine in decades.

On April 5th, the Labor Committee of the Maine legislature will hear a slew of bills backed by LePage to roll back nearly every part of the minimum wage increase. Minimum wage increase supporters are planning to turn out to oppose LePage and protect the raise.

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