At the end of Michael Saltsman’s editorial published in Friday’s Providence Journal(03/27/2015), Mr Saltsman, who frequently writes editorials in opposition to minimum wage increases all over the United States while on the payroll of a Washington D.C. public relations firm called Berman and Company, suggests that, “Rhode Island legislators…should handle this misguided proposal like they’d handle an overcooked meal: Send it back.” 

If that is indeed what happens to the Sub-Minimum Wage Increase Bill for tipped employees as it is considered inside the Rhode Island General Assembly, it will be nothing out of the ordinary for Servers already working in the Restaurant industry.  It will have a similar effect that an unsatisfactory meal can have on a Server’s quantifiable livelihood on any given day. The old scam of placing a fly in one’s soup in order to get a free meal hurts not only the Restaurant owner, but the Server as well. 

Tipped employees in Rhode Island haven’t received a raise since 1996 when the sub-minimum wage was brought up to its current rate of $2.89 per hour. Considering the somewhat drastic fluctuations of the economy in Rhode Island over the last twenty years, it is a wonder how this workforce which, by the by, is made up of only 31% men and an overwhelming majority 69% percent women have survived during this time. 

The answer to this important question of “how do they get by” can be found in the most recent report by the Rhode Island Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calculates that tipped employees in this state rack up nearly $700,000 per month(!) in government assistance from the State of Rhode Island.  What is Mr Saltsman’s recommendation as per this seemingly different, yet interrelated issue?

May I suggest raising the tipped minimum wage in Rhode Island? Not only will this disqualify many of Rhode Island’s tipped workforce from receiving various forms of government assistance, it will now begin to qualify many members of this tipped employee caste for home loans and potential economic stability that has been out of reach for decades.

While I am no predictor of economic futures, I can now begin to foresee not-too-distant future where many of the families who formerly relied almost solely on tips for income having the chance to go out to dinner at Rhode Island’s world-class restaurants once or twice more often per year. I wonder how Mr Saltsman and other members of the multi-million dollar restaurant lobby will find a way to “send back” this freshly prepared dish?

Thanks to Bob Plain for his article at


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