Lookin' Good at 58

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gimme A Break

A fellow waiter and I were talking today about the waiting life. When I started bringing up the low hourly wage a lot of waiters made in the United States he brought up a very good point.

When I mentioned the fact that waiters down South seem to accept the fact that they get paid peanuts so that their employers do not have to add more to the price of an item on the menu to cover their labour costs and risk customers fleeing elsewhere to eat , this is what he said. Let's say all the wages went up to $8 an hour and the cost of the meal went up proportionately on the menu , everyone is still going to go out and eat. Everyone will pay the added amount to a menu item to cover the cost to get fed. It is not like people are all of a sudden going to boycott eating out.

Well that makes perfect sense! Think about it. Cars cost $30,000 today but in the 60's they were $5,000. We didn't stop buying cars because there was an increase in price did we? We wouldn't cancel our phone cause the price went up to cover inflation would we?

Yet the employees who work for these and other companies are making a lot more than 40 years ago. Do you see what I am saying and what my friend accurately pointed out?

Why if you are a waiter should be so concerned anyway about labour costs? What about making a living? In my opinion and this may seem a bit rude but your employer if they are holding that over your head and giving you labour costs and I cannot pay you more than $2-4 dollars an hour stories well that my friends is bullshit and they are just being freaking greedy by brainwashing you.

Maybe what they really should be thinking about is guaranteeing that some employees will think about staying long term and putting a plate in front of the guest that is value driven and not cost conscious.

What has to happen is for everyone in that region to raise the wage for servers and bartenders. Pass the cost onto the consumer who will pay for anything cause we all know they do anyway from cars , houses , boats , toys etc. and then and only then will they walk into a restaurant and see a server that was there the last time they ate there. That is a happy waiter or bartender.

Here I notice that no matter what the price of the menu item is I still get tipped the same. If an item costs $40 or $80 I make the same percentage plus I get a paycheque that is worth something every two weeks and believe me the money comes in handy. At $2 an hour as some places a server earns in the States , even if I worked 40 hours a week I would still make less than half what I do now on my paycheque working half that amount.

I am sorry but the States is the last G7 country to have workers put up with that bullshit. Some people may not like what I am saying here but you all have to do something and get the government on your side. The States is not a third world country but people making $2.13 an hour is absurd!

No security , no benefits , no pension , no respect from your employer , no life , fuck all ! All for the privilege of working for 2 -4 dollars an hour. And hope for the best that you make anything after making sure you tip out everyone and pay your taxes on time through your employer.

Gimme A Break!!


Nathan said...

an interesting post indeed. I have often wondered why American waiters get paid so little. Here in Australia the average casual wage (no holiday or sick pay) is around $20/hour. The full time or part time wage (includes holiday and sick pay) is around $16/hour. Our main meals in most decent restaurants are between $18-$30 and appetizers are between $10-$15. Obviously there are also fine dining restaurants with higher prices that pay the same wages. However on the other hand we often get very few tips in most restaurants. Excepts once again if you work in fine dining where many include an automatic gratuity, but that is often only 12%. Would you prefer to be on a higher hourly wage and not receive as much in tips?

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

I do okay now but the natural progression would be to go from waiting on tables to management where you would assume you would make more but the opposite is true. Here waiters make more than their bosses. So literally depending on your physical ability it is better to wait on tables. It is a weird way of answering your question I know. $20 an hour would be a cut in my take home pay but if you are working part time that would be fine. Good money on the side for Friday and Saturday nights along with a normal fulltime day job.

LW said...

While I agree that not all people would stop going out to eat, some would. Others would stop tipping if servers made more per hour. In the US there are websites dedicated to "Stop Tipping". Some people here believe that if we made more per hour they would no longer have to tip. Out of curiosity, is this a problem in Canada?
Also, the government would have to do something about the way we are taxed if we were paid minimum wage and I'm not sure they are ready to deal with that.
I will say though, when I started serving I got $2.16 an hour. It is not at $4.65 where I live.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

LW...so maybe you would lose a few but then those are the people who have no money anyway. Maybe too once the manager started giving more time to the best servers because of the lower number it would weed out the bad servers and bartenders and give you bigger sections and more tips. The government would tax you on your higher hourly wage thus taking some of the onus off you having to declare so much on your own. As for those people who have started a no tipping website those must be the same people who hate the idea of universal health care or anything that will improve the social fabric of society. In Canada we just don't have people who hate tipping. Yes we sometimes get rotten tables but that is normal everywhere. I would rather just be self employed and write off expenses than being paid $2.16 an hour. Being paid that little is like getting a $1 tip on a $100 bill. Better just to get stiffed than get left the $1 if you know what I mean.