(The Center Square) – Paying for your meal would be different, and potentially more expensive, under a plan being pushed by Democrats at the Wisconsin Capitol.

State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Francesca Hong, D-Madison, introduced legislation on Monday to end the state’s tipped minimum wage.

“A livable wage is non-negotiable in our state,” Hong said in a statement. “It is our moral duty to ensure that our neighbors can provide for themselves and their loved ones. A good first step in ensuring dignity for working-class Wisconsinites is to eliminate the tipped minimum wage.”

Servers, bartenders, and others who get tips in the state’s restaurants can make as little as $2.33, compared to the $7.25 for non-tipped employees. Many restaurants and stores pay far more than the minimum wage.

Hong, who owns a restaurant herself, said the idea is in line with Madison’s progressive ideology.

“Even before Covid-19, many in our community struggled to access basic necessities and found themselves living from meager paycheck to paycheck,” Hong added. “The pandemic has only laid bare the holes in our economic and social fabric that have been perpetuated by a lack of humane and progressive policy. “

Larson said ending the tipped minimum wage, and ending tips, would be more fair for some people who work in restaurants.

“Forced to rely on tips to make a living wage, they are often subjected to harassment and abuse that no worker should have to endure,” Larson said. “By bringing tipped wages in line with the rest of the workforce, we pave the way for a future where service work can be a career, not just a job.”

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association last month said there was a conversation to be had about the minimum wage, but now is not the time to start talking about raising another cost for restaurants that have been struggling.

“Now is not the time to raise the minimum wage or eliminate the tip credit. Restaurants are experiencing the worst economic downturn in history during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some restaurants will not see an economic recovery until 2023, or later,” the Association said in a statement. “The restaurant industry needs time to recover, but at the same time, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association and its members are ready to have a conversation about a balanced way to address wage levels in the foodservice industry and the unique impact any change would have on the economic recovery of its employees and restaurant operators.”

Reposted from The Center Square with permission.

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