Fair wage bill to be introduced at the Colorado Capitol

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado lawmakers on Monday unveiled a new bill in an interesting fashion.

Supporters of the bill, which is designed to help increase wages for restaurant and other tipped workers, donned aprons to get the word out about it. But opponents fear the bill would do just the opposite, and Colorado’s largest food-service organization was not impressed.

The event was hosted in partnership with One Fair Wage, which advocates to end sub-minimum wages for tipped workers.

In Colorado, tipped employees are paid to the extent that adding tips raises their totals to minimum wage. A prime sponsor of the bill and a former server himself, Democratic state Rep. Javier Mabrey said it’s about giving Colorado cities the option that other cities across the U.S. have decided to use.

“Colorado gave municipalities the authority to increase the minimum wage for all workers except the tipped workers. So what we are trying to do is close that loop and say municipalities should also be able to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers as well,” Mabrey said.

The bill would give municipalities the option on whether to raise the wage for tipped workers.

“This is about local control, and it’s also about empowering restaurant workers,” Mabrey said.

Colorado Restaurant Association pushes back

“This is about the worst thing you can do to the industry, and they would have learned that if they would have talked to us or if they talked to any restaurant owners or people that worked in restaurants,” said Colin Larson, director of government affairs for the Colorado Restaurant Association. Larson is also a former state representative.

The Colorado Restaurant Association has not seen the bill, because they said lawmakers did not have discussions with them about it. They believe opponents, including restaurant owners and staffers, will come out in full force against the measure, saying it would create inequities within the industry.

“There’s a pretty big (difference) there between what someone who isn’t earning tips takes home and what someone who does earn tips takes home,” Larson said. “This bill is perfectly designed to take more money away from the people in the back of the house and give it to folks in the front of the house. So it will make wage inequity worse.”

Sponsors say they want to see more data about the claims of possible inequities as they move forward with the bill. The measure is set to be introduced later this week.

Source: Rocky Mountain News

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