The Trump administration’s Department of Labor wants to make tip pooling legal again. That means restaurant owners could collect servers’ tips and redistribute them as they see fit — including pocketing them for themselves. Understandably, this proposal is being met with plenty of opposition from restaurant industry workers, as well as the general public.
Formally proposed in early December, the public now has until February 5 to comment on the tip-pooling rule before it actually goes into effect. So far more than 290,000 comments have been posted online, and as the Dallas Observer noted yesterday, said comments are overwhelmingly opposed to tip pooling: Searching the comment database for the word “against” brings up more than 138,000 results, while “oppose” returns more than 90,000 comments.
While many of the opposition comments feature standard boilerplate language, there are also plenty of impassioned pleas from restaurant industry employees who feel the return of tip pooling could put their livelihood at stake.
“The proposal to shift tips from employees to employers is THEFT,” writes Mary Austin. “As a woman who has worked in food services for several years, my tips were sometimes the only thing that kept me from homelessness. The idea that employers would universally share the tips i.e. ‘tip pooling’ is ridiculous and puts the employee at the mercy of their boss. You are endangering the financial security of hard-working, low-income people. HAVE YOU NO SHAME??”
“This is a terrible idea for many reasons,” says Hannah Woolwine. “I am a server and if something like this were to go through, I wouldn’t be a server anymore and I don’t know any other servers who feel otherwise. The quality of servers would decrease detrimentally and more than likely result in loss of business. Some servers are really good at their job which is why people tip them more than others! Why work so hard to make the same as everyone else?”
In the federal rule-making process, public comments can help shape policy or, in some cases, spur an agency to terminate a proposed rule altogether. But comments aren’t like a ballot system, meaning even if a vast majority of people speak out against tip-pooling, the rule can still be put into place.