Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why are Food Service Workers in the United States Not Paid a Fair Wage?


 Re-examining the Social and Economic Etiquette and Policy in the Present Economy.
A human interest feature exposing the struggle of Food Service Workers in states that allow for unlivable wages of $2.13 per hour for waiters and waitresses who also receive tips, was recently posted by Tom Loud, and shared to the Green Association for Sustainable Societies Facebook page.
Tom's comments were simple, concise and logical:  "Tip...(exclamatory)"   If it were only that easy! Yet if you believe the argument that working for $2.13 an hour in a hash house or lunch/dinner chain is acceptable because of the tips received, it is time to re-examine your paradigms of the decade's economic and social behavior.   

Probably the most compelling argument for raising the minimum wage for food service workers is that the procedure for determining the minimum wage is flawed. Low minumum wage states depend on the 'kindness of strangers' rather than a profit/loss or cost of living equation, to assure that an entire class receives a fair wage.  This fact is shocking and deplorable. The duty to assure that employees receive a livable wage should be on the state legislation to define and employers to implement.  It should not be the responsibility of the unassuming, and mostly uninformed public.

Food service wages seem to be lowest in the poorest states, where there is more poverty and people have less to tip, and are also less likely to tip as a social grace.  The Culture of Poverty theory would explain this behavior as systemic:  Perhaps, a non-tipper never saw their parents tip, so they have no model to reference.  Only by exposure does one learn the advantages of tipping a concierge or valet well.  The payoff for tipping waiters in coffee shops and dinner houses is minimal or non-existent, as the customer may have no intentions on ever eating in that restaurant again.

State laws limiting food service worker wages to unlivable lows should be changed for the simple reason that it is that State's responsibility to provide citizens the opportunity for the pursuit of happiness, equal employment, and a fair wage.  Previous economic etiquette spelled out strict guidelines of up to twenty percent in tips for everyone from the grocery boy to the milk delivery man (The What What man?). In the 2010's, with virtual access virtually everywhere, tipping has become both a lost art and an obsolete gesture that is at the subjectability of the customer.  It is no longer the rule, but rather the exception when exceptional service and an able customer meet.  The States that maintain these low minimums, and the food establishments that employ them must realize their responsibility to their workers and offer a livable wage.

The article regarding food service workers minimum wages:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-25/waitresses-stuck-at-2-13-hourly-minimum-for-22-years.html


SOURCES:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_poverty

For more information on "The Culture of Poverty", listen to or read this NPR program:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102246990
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The Green Association for Sustainability

edited 04/30/2013
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