Increasing tipped worker wages likely to appear on Mass. ballot

Seven other states have already taken the step to boost pay for tipped workers

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On the heels of collecting thousands of signatures, the One Fair Wage movement is calling on Massachusetts to boost tipped workers' minimum wage to a mandatory $15 an hour, instead of the current $6.75 with tips.

“Giving our most vulnerable populations a little more money to make their lives a little bit easier is something we can all get behind,” said Elena Vietri with One Fair Wage.



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“The struggle is every day paying your bills, deciding if you can buy food or pay the electricity bill,” said Angel Howell with New England United for Justice.

But that view isn’t shared by everyone.

“It’s certainly going to impact restaurants across the Commonwealth, and we are very concerned,” said Nancy Caswell with Mass Restaurants United.

Business owners inside the service industry point to future costs that customers and workers will have to shoulder, along with a difficult summer of explaining their stance on the issue.

“It’s very frustrating that One Fair Wage went through this ballot initiative because it’s really putting pressure on our industry to talk politics in the dining room, which isn’t easy,” said Caswell.

Supports seem prepared to take that risk, arguing hourly wages will create stability for their daily expenses.

“You have to ask yourself; would you work for that amount of money with the bills you have now? If you did work, what would you do to make extra money? What sacrifices would you have to make?” said Howell.

Seven other states have already taken the step to boost pay for tipped workers to a standard minimum wage. Massachusetts voters will have the final say when they go to the polls on November 5.

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