Restaurant workers don’t want to be left out of debate over minimum wage

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — A group of local restaurant workers are making sure they’re not forgotten in the debate over the increase in minimum wage. State lawmakers are looking at a plan to gradually increase Indiana’s minimum and President Joe Biden is pushing for a change at the federal level too.

Wait staff makes a minimum of $2.13, plus tips. The $2.13 is called the tip wage. Servers want the tip wage to go up at least $0.50.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the busiest at Four Seasons Family Restaurant.

“I came back to waiting tables five years ago,” waitress Lisa Clodfelter said.

Clodfelter loves her job but wonders if that feeling will last.

“There’s no way wait staff can make it off $15 an hour,” she said.

The longtime waitress works five, eight-hour shifts a week and takes home between $400 and $500. If tips go away, the Indiana Restaurant and Logging Association says food and drink prices will increase by 30%.

“It would be like coming in here and paying $20 for a cheeseburger,” Clodfelter said.

If passed, the association says all employees would move to a starting wage of $15 an hour. The server that once made $25 an hour with tips or more would be at $15 in a non-tip environment.

“I wouldn’t want to see it happen,” Clodfelter said.

Instead, they’re asking for an increase in the hourly tip wage.

“I could see an hourly rate increasing from $0.50 to $1.00 over the next year or so for servers,” Four Seasons waitress Kelly Robinson said.

Now, servers will wait and focus on customers and hope their financial state isn’t in jeopardy.

The federal tip wage hasn’t increased since 1991.

The proposed bill in Indiana would raised the hourly rate from $7.25 an hour to $10 for certain employees. The bill has yet to get a hearing.