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Republicans Remain Mostly Silent on Tipping Laws

The Department of Labor’s proposal to make tip-pooling legal has drawn serious opposition from restaurant workers and Democrats

Tipping Shutterstock

Restaurant workers and worker advocate groups have come out in full force against the Department of Labor’s proposed tip-pooling regulations — and Republicans seemingly aren’t doing much to shift the tide.

The proposed regulations would allow restaurant owners to collect servers’ tips and redistribute them to other staffers as they see fit, or pocket them for themselves. Hundreds of thousands of people voiced their opposition to tip-pooling during the comment phase of the rule-making process, with many decrying it as theft.

Earlier this month, two dozen Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a scathing letter to Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta decrying the tip-pooling proposal. The letter read in part: “DOL is forcing through a regulation that would take money out of the pockets of low-wage workers and, even worse, it covered up the potentially catastrophic impacts from workers and advocates. This is a stark example of how far the Trump Administration is willing to go to appease business interests at the expense of working families.”

The following day, Wisconsin State Rep. David Bowen sent a similar letter to Acosta, asking him to “protect America’s workers and foster healthy work environments.”

”Not only do workers deserve their hard-earned tips, they also deserve more of a voice within their companies,” Bowen wrote.

The week prior, it was revealed that the Department of Labor concealed an analysis indicating that tip pooling would cost restaurant workers billions of dollars in gratuities. Senior department officials ordered staff to revise the methodology, and when they were still dissatisfied with the results, they simply left it out of the of the rule proposal altogether — purposely presenting an incomplete and skewed view of the effects tip pooling would have on restaurant workers.

The GOP has had little to say in support of tip pooling: Not a single lawmaker would comment after reporters at Bloomberg Law “reached out to spokespeople for all House and Senate Republican politicians on the four subcommittees with jurisdiction over workers’ wages or over the agency regulatory process.”

As Bloomberg notes, one group that has been vocal in its support of tip pooling is conservative business interest group the National Restaurant Association, which in early 2017 asked the Supreme Court to decide whether tip-pooling should be made legal again.

The comment phase ended February 5, and the government has 60 days from that date to decide how to proceed. If the commenting process was akin to voting, the tip-pooling regulations would have been easily defeated, but it’s not: Instead, the Labor Department could decide to revise the proposal, scrap it altogether, or proceed with it as originally planned, despite all the opposition.

GOP Strands Labor Dept. in Tip Pool, as the Left Swarms [Bloomberg Law]
Americans Are Not Happy With Trump DOL’s Tip-Pooling Proposal [E]
Tip-Pooling Will Cost Workers Billions, According to Hidden Labor Department Data [E]

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