“These workers play a vital role in the service industry, and they work hard to keep their families out of poverty,” said Rep. Coursey, D-Benton. “Unfortunately, too many are not able to make ends meet as the value of their base pay has declined during the past two decades; right now many of them can’t even afford to buy the food they serve others. I filed House Bill 191 because I think the time has come to better help them provide the basics that they and their families need.”
Rep. Coursey’s legislation, which will be considered during the ongoing legislative session, would only affect those employees in Kentucky who earn $2.13 an hour and receive more than $30 a month in tips. If his bill becomes law, the hourly rate would immediately rise to $3 per hour; and to protect against inflation, his legislation would have the minimum wage for tipped employees rise annually every July 1st until it is 70% of the hourly minimum wage for other workers, which is currently $7.25.
“I want to emphasize that my bill is not a statement against businesses like our local restaurants,” Rep. Coursey said. “On the contrary, they are following long-established law. I just think that after nearly a quarter century that it is time for this law to change; it is time for those working for $2.13 an hour to get a small pay raise to help that single mom put food on the table, the senior citizen pay her electric bill or the college student cover some of his expenses.”
Tipped employees make up a large part of Kentucky’s work force, with the vast majority of them – 73% – working women. Of those, half are over 30, and one in seven rely on food stamps. When compared with salaried employees, these workers see extreme fluctuations in wages from day to day, with little to no health benefits and very few programs that plan for retirement.
“I know for a fact that the folks who are serving these roles in our economy are working hard,” Coursey said. “My wife Nikki helped work her way through college serving tables in Draffenville, but, despite the long hours, she still had to rely on student loans for tuition and living expenses. If this is true for a student working their way through college, let’s think about what it means for a mother trying to provide for her children. I think it’s time, after more than 20 years, to give these folks a boost.”