Our Industry, Our Voice

Servers and bartenders thrive under the current tipped wage system. These are their stories.

Tipping is a uniquely American part of restaurant culture. Customers can show their gratitude and tipped workers can be rewarded for their service. This income potential, combined with flexibility that’s available in few other jobs, leads millions of Americans to work as tipped employees.

This system is under attack by a well-funded interest group called the Restaurant Opportunities Center, whose organizers have suggested that tipped employees are victims of an abusive industry. This is insulting to those who’ve built their careers around tips.

These videos feature tipped workers from around the country who share this common belief: The tipping system isn’t broken and it doesn’t need fixing. It’s time for lawmakers to listen to the voices of real tipped workers, rather than labor advocates.

Alaina Nutt

Applebee'sMonroe, Michigan

“The tipping system has given my family not only flexibility but an awesome lifestyle that we can flourish in.”

Alex Garday

RPMChicago, Illinois

“To move away from a tip system, the level of service would decline. When was the last time you went to a restaurant and was like, ‘I’ll have mediocre service please?'”

Cindy Muñoz

Tomasita'sSanta Fe, New Mexico

“I was working as a teacher’s assistant and I was earning half of what I now earn working at Tomasita’s.”

Dani Ritchie

North Country Brewing CompanySlippery Rock, Pennsylvania

“I never thought I’d be able to open up my own hair salon. I worked my butt off and saved my tips until I had enough. Working in the restaurant industry allowed me that.”

Geoff Arner

Favazza'sSt. Louis, Missouri

“Whenever you automatically switch to fifteen dollars an hour, there’s a lot of people going to be making a lot less money.”

Jennifer Schellenberg

Northbound Smokehouse and Brew PubMinneapolis St. Paul, Minnesota

“With tipped income, I make on average between thirty five and fifty dollars an hour depending on the day. I would never want to go to a flat hourly rate.”

Jessie Bish

Glory Days GrillHagerstown, Maryland

“When people have a bill due the next day, they can pick up a shift and make that money in cash and be able to pay their bills.”

Joshua Chaisson

The PortholePortland, Maine

“This is not a broken system that is in need of fixing, it was a solution in search of a problem.”

Maggie Raczynski

Outback SteakhouseAlbany, New York

“Tipped income provides endless opportunity. The better service you provide, the better income you make.”

Mary Ann Lambert

The 99 RestaurantsPlymouth, Massachusetts

“Anybody that thinks that they’re helping us by taking away the opportunity to make tips is going to hurt a lot of people because we depend on our tips.”

Monica Link

ServerRehoboth Beach, Delaware

“It’s not like any other job that you could ever have, it’s not a desk job, it’s not a nine to five job.”

Nicole Sadler

Glory Days GrillPasadena, Maryland

“This proposal doesn’t work for the industry, it would be changing the lives for a lot of people, and not for the better.”

Sierra Sandoval

Tomasita’sSanta Fe, New Mexico

“If we were to go to an hourly rate we would not be happy, and all service would go down. It just wouldn’t work out for us.”

Simone Barron

ServerSeattle, Washington

“We are real people affected by these policies. We want our voices to be heard.”

Tezra Bryant

Sylvia'sNew York, New York

“People are like, ‘Oh my God, New York is so expensive to live in.’ Guess what? I’ve lived there 18 years, working at a restaurant.”

Tyler Bernadyn

Midtown Oyster Bar and Caleb & BroadNewport, Rhode Island

“Tips allow people to live a comfortable lifestyle. It has allotted me an opportunity to provide for myself, for my family when need be.”

Valerie Graham

Jack Rose Dining SaloonWashington, D.C.

“Working in restaurants has given me the flexibility and earning potential to support my daughter as a single mom in a very expensive and gentrifying city.”

Valerie Torres

St. Arnold's Mussel Bar and The Game Sports PubWashington, D.C.

“I like the tip credit system, it allows that flexibility to make well above minimum wage.”

Yuridia Alvarado

Denny’sSan Antonio, Texas

“Working on a tip system allows me to work less hours and earn double the income.”