Scott and Dem Leadership Hold Forum on Administration’s Harmful Proposed Tip Rule

WASHINGTON – TODAY, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-05), Congressional Progressive Caucus Labor Liaison, Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), vice ranking member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce hosted a forum on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposal to allow employers to pocket their employees’ tips. Members heard from and questioned experts and advocates on the potential impact of the rule and the issues with the DOL’s rulemaking process. The Economic Policy Institute estimates this rule could allow employers to pocket $5.8 billion of their employees' tips each year.

“There is simply no way to do a good-faith estimate of the impact of this rule that doesn’t reveal that it is terrible for workers,” stated Heidi Shierholz, Senior Economist and Director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute. “The fact that DOL did an economic analysis and then – when they didn’t like the findings – simply buried it and claimed they couldn’t do it, is a shameful violation of the rulemaking process and the public’s trust.”

“The National Employment Law Project vehemently opposes this proposed regulation and believes that tips should never be the property of employers. Tipped industries already are characterized by higher-than-average rates of wage theft and DOL’s proposal would amount to little more than legalized wage theft,” stated Raj Nayak, Deputy Director of the National Employment Law Project. “Servers and bartenders earn more than half of their wages from tips and allowing employers to take them and distribute, or not distribute them, as they please, could be devastating for this workforce.”  

“An agency’s deliberate withholding of relevant data during a rulemaking process fundamentally undermines the integrity of that rulemaking process,” stated Amit Narang, Regulatory Policy Advocate for Public Citizen. “There is only one option for DOL to cure these fundamental legal deficiencies: to withdraw the current proposed rule, release the economic data to the public, and only then re-consider a new rulemaking process if the data supports it.”

“The process for this new rule has been underhanded and undemocratic. The Department of Labor initially only provided a 30 day comment period, during the busiest time of the year for us and our employees,” stated Imar Hutchins, Owner of Florida Avenue Grill. “It's unconscionable that they tried to push this rule through without hearing from restaurant owners and workers who oppose it.”

“When a customer tips they assume those tips are going to the server,” stated Thea Bryan, restaurant worker and member of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC). “This will affect me personally as I depend on those tips to make ends meet. Without a substantial income, I can’t make it.”

To watch the forum, click here

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