STATEWIDE – Maine’s minimum wage is $11 an hour but a server’s hourly wage is about half that at between $5 and $6 an hour.
Servers currently make up for the low hourly wage through tips that customers leave.
“A few years ago when the minimum wage question was approved, it also changed how Mainers would be paid. It’s state law right now that Maine servers get half the minimum wage as long as they can show that their tips make up the difference so that they show that they make at least minimum wage,” said Carrie Smith, a board member of Restaurant Workers of America.
But a bill submitted by Lewiston Rep. Heidi Brooks, D-Lewiston, is looking to eliminate that tip credit and double servers’ current minimum wage.
On Thursday morning, a spokesperson for Brooks said the wording of the bill was being revised. She said it was likely that the final version of the bill could address the concerns of restaurant servers.
Even though the bill raises the minimum wage for servers, local restaurant workers said the proposed bill will increase menu prices, eliminate jobs and threaten the restaurant industry in Maine.
“If a server’s wage is increased by 100 percent, that burden will be passed on to the customer. If a customer is paying such inflated menu prices and knowing that server is making $11 an hour, they’re not going to leave that 20 percent tip,” Smith said.
Smith said there is no reason to change the tip system as it is working quite well right now.