WWL>Topics>>12-16 2:10pm Angela, restaurant wages

12-16 2:10pm Angela, restaurant wages

Dec 16, 2013|

: Should minimum wage workers get an increase or expect to work their way up? Minimum wage workers across the nation are protesting low wages. They say they want a living wage…many calling for an increase from $7.25 to $15.00. Many are not kids with 1st time jobs, but seasoned service workers. Is that reasonable or unreasonable? Will that keep jobs or kill them? Will that help business or hurt it? And, what about the concept of working your way up? Angela spoke with Jared Ralls of La Boca, Tonyelle Nelson of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Odessa Whitman, and Kelly Schulz of New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

-- minimum wage workers across the nation are protesting low wages. They say they want a living wage many calling for an increase from seven dollars 25 cents to fifteen dollars. Many are not teens working their first job but brother seasons service workers. Is this reasonable or unreasonable. Will that keep jobs or kill them. And what about the concept of climbing your way to the top learning new skills are getting more education to make more money. What joining us to talk about this very important topic is. Tanya L Nelson research and policy organizer for rock which is restaurant opportunities centers the New Orleans office. Odessa Whitman who works in a fine dining restaurant and has been in the business for thirteen years. And Kelly -- vice president of communications. For the New Orleans convention and visitors bureau and I really appreciate you all being here. I think we've all seen both on television and the newspapers in the last several months this whole discussion about. Some of the protests that were from the fast food restaurant so we do wanna clarify this is not all about fast food restaurants this is about the whole minimum wage issue. So I think all of a sudden our eyes are opened I I'm not sure I even knew that 725 -- the national. I think and then all of a sudden. To fifteen dollars and -- just put an interested in knowing the thought process behind that figure. Kind of doubling what exists. Well hi Sally and -- again my name is Tanya on Nelson. And thinks I have an aside. -- however this -- been something that that has been talked about from meaning years and when you -- most of the fast food workers who are asking for a -- back 55 dot excuse me fifteen dollars an hour. I am currently. The agency where I work which investment opportunities and New Orleans. We're actually speaking to congress about a minimum wage of ten dollars and ten cents an hour. And -- and it's come from is that the cost of living has primarily increased. And it's not something that. That was just thought of you know off the top of folks hated but it just so that people are able to maintain. The base seat costs that basic stand as a live mean. You know economists have looked ahead -- I'll -- it and wages increase about 101010 cents an hour. Across the board that it will give people on a plane a level playing field to be able to take care of themselves. So not necessarily fifteen dollars you hear that a laugh from best strikers in -- to get that hints in. Of individuals who just started talking about the issue of the minimum wage increase is not on exactly that folks and I am expecting it to be fifteen dollar an -- and I want appoint an out but is just to get the conversation to calling. And right precedent. President Obama has suggested nine dollar yes he did and so your organization is saying 1010. And actually we're in support. Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa. And also I am. Representative Joyce Miller out of California and they actually presented. To the senators. And also to the congressional represented that it should be ten team. So it so restaurant opportunities is yes -- advocating -- also banking that decision support to be Ting Ting. If that makes it. Makes a lot of sense. Let us talk about you have spent thirteen years. In a fine dining restaurant not not fast food. And it correct me if I'm wrong it's only what I've read that you everybody gets paid 213 an hour yes and then you really get it's all based on -- Exactly exactly. And often times you know the servers don't even get an actual pay stub and such -- and those are often can be. Zero. So that causes I missed you. Exclusively. Get all of our salary. From. From actual. -- Certain you know and tips so that's -- that. Extremely. And is going to change. How the service industry is how it actually is supposed to be. I -- sets. And -- these server. It is. You know it just changes how it it -- and changes how it. How things work to ask you do you think that 213. Should be raised oh yes I do to the 1010 do I do to sell and up per hour of ten town and then get the chips. I do. And do it because. It not only. Shows that it's. You know. Service is a fine fine fine skill. And it's very much as various specials certain person to actually. In our. Since -- ED. I think that service really it has a special special spot and it really needs to be. Seen that way. Now -- -- today -- -- when you into S and that's OK I lucked out on the bag I apologize I really do. But missed until an unknown act at what I like to answer that is that when you really think about it the the 213. When he says he's speaking out. Most servers to received a paste they proceed apace because that paid pretty much goes to with the taxes. OK so they're not actually generating any income from -- is the really think about it to about 2013. Cents and and if viewers cervical works at a restaurant who is seen a -- season. And you worked and you know eight hours at that restaurant. Tune Alan and thirteen cents times eight and so in -- just think about it another regards to. Business owners are asking customers. To subsidize. The personnel on the payroll and of their stuff. And soul both fullback. Coming on to this employment outlook have to be an instance say I really think about it like I didn't think about that when I campaign next yeah. Dad and maybe. The only income -- that person is going to receive that day. And so that it is imperative that act and act you know happy that he not only -- at Tina. But that at least paid the the tip amount of the proceedings as being asked sold. When -- is saying increased to thirteen. Resting and then. I stated that they weren't a tip leads and I call it I headed in and you know MM and I could say you know have a space selling it. Because -- -- should be across the board. What fassel workers went. When people who work in -- waiting. There should be an increase of -- minimum wage across the boy in should be done only with the tip. -- outs again there. And ends because you know because just to subsidize that person's paid based on it I like the asparagus. And you know -- so it didn't mention that she was shared a story with me. When she worked in another stage and she done a exceptionally sat waiting on a customer. And they are -- was what about a 200 dollar below. And then a tip privately. Yeah an -- she was you you can drag -- and here's the thing is that you know. The service I. Think people see that as a you know circumstantial sliding -- -- Which. Is really not so great I can't ask someone -- instead I you know am I can have. A certain table to me. Ten. -- fifteen. And they have a second it will hit me Friday and then at their table to meet twenty. And that's not a very stable I guess. System. So for me if you're picking. And about its hands in terms of sales. I sell. I sell. Extremely. I -- I sell so. Service should be. -- It's I think that you know a service fees or however much some wants to tip should. I think really show. 2 words I -- A salesmanship. And that isn't happening. We've certainly seen in the last month -- show the protest at the various fast food restaurants. One in a higher minimum wage from 725. In some cases asking up to fifteen dollars but we're here today. With three people and we're going to definitely get Kelly -- But talking about the restaurant industry not just fast food but other. Fine dining restaurants but anything in minimum wage. And really what we're hearing from time hill is. That a closer approximation would be 101010 dollars and ten cents as a new. Minimum wage -- So let -- move on because we do have Jared Rawls who was the chef partner with Adolfo Garcia at La Boca and Jerry and I really appreciate you calling him. Thank you. If you've been listening post your thoughts on this. All that there's a couple of points that brought out you know about the increase in minimum wage. And -- -- too much margin on the subject. I do believe that -- closely -- and inflation inflation -- that it should be -- Minimum wage are competence and researcher -- And over the last 3040 years -- being inflation rate has kept pace with the -- minimal wage a -- with. The would be inflation rate you know -- -- economist but I -- I have a map there. Roughly two tenths of a percent. Looking back -- I think that minimum wage maintained that growth. Our -- the country's economic inflation. That's that's a good starting point for young workers are getting into the job force all without any skills it's a great place to start and you have to start somewhere in the bed you know quality cheap -- I think as pretty on the source. You bring up a very good point because I think a lot of people think the same thing that. A lot of especially in the fast food world that it is. The first job and -- and an -- to learn those skills and to learn. A work ethic in a in a showing up on time etc. But what we're learning is that an awful lot of these cases was a hundred up 25%. These are our work full time jobs. Help with people raising families. And in reality -- and you raise a family on seven dollars and 25 cents I think that's that's the issue. It is the reality think the answer is absolutely not you can read them all on seven. And -- our. Even if you probably worked two jobs. You know roughly sixty hours a week you would still be extremely difficult to accomplish. -- I'm hoping minimum -- is ever the intent was to ever -- -- you know middle aged person apparently you. You know three children and troops to repeated support that more. It's meant to be a starting point I think it's meant in its built and it's ever been enacted to -- Carter. Perhaps educate yourself or a tree and and and regrets -- -- -- -- -- in broccoli over twenty years economy minimum wage and -- only lasted about three months may mean an obstacle may not say that that's the same case for everybody. But the opportunity is there to teaches. -- again and and make with -- giving. And you know certainly everybody wants to earn more money which you that's that's -- -- after current. Well. What about what -- Odessa was saying. Concerning the two dollars and thirteen cents that in the fine dining restaurants their paint and then there it's really their salaries really dependent on tips. About raising that to. On minimum wage. Well in it it's a matter of culture United States we are a tipping society when it when it refers to call waiting tables congressional specifically. While the European model as well. There that does not use that at all -- beer wages are are basically shut. And it can use. -- -- on top of that they do take out Japanese model you know they don't accept trips any sort of caution. Calm if if ball you don't want averaged out what what you you know straight middle class rational not fine dining. Not the lowest of the this that the dining standard of oval -- diner where maybe -- tripped as well. I would say ten to fifteen dollars an hour is not out of the norm for -- -- that's working that should environment for a weaker. Work eight hours walk -- with eighty to a 120 dollars. This call recording normal. 20/20 two dollar an hour. And if that's. A -- kind of appeal great for something that. You don't need to go to school for aren't you certainty it is certainly on the job training I think it -- -- the rest. Chinese shores. On -- trade or orange out ghost. Are your -- to thirteen the right number what it used to be when it was 425 an hour now what exactly happened minimum age and -- -- that's what sent. You know a moderate strong and the -- beyond the control but on. Those who -- steps and bartenders paychecks. So they don't get sort out checked all of their their income is taxed properly. And are they do it's substantial paychecks every two weeks. And we've been doing that for a couple of years it it's worked out great. Do you see the wait staff that you work with as professionals. Absolutely they're professionals. Are some have are higher skills that's when they had to -- warm virtually year and knowledge. Competent -- it's our job -- Owners and managers to train them and bring them up a level we want and are certainly we we. Tend to not hire people with no experience. All we want people with experience to bring something as table. -- -- But it's not it's not that you don't walk into our you know -- actually work in McDonald's and then nine -- -- it will. And -- All sorts of it if it's learning -- it's a growth industry. You know individual growth. When you -- you know and what. And we also have here Kelly Schulz is vice president of communications. Of the New Orleans convention and visitors bureau. And just your thoughts listening to both sides well one of the things that at a -- sent earlier was the services the skill. Myself and I absolutely agree with you that our restaurant professionals are. The Frontline ambassadors of New Orleans they are. You know when visitors come to New Orleans they talk about her music and our culture and our architecture but the one thing they talk about consistently our people and our -- And so you know working in restaurants here is. Very respected profession. And it's it's critical to you know not only our success -- the destination but if you think about the fact we have 80000. Families in new morons who are dependent upon tourism and that's restaurants among that is. Hotels and attractions or you know the eighty employees are so like myself that work at the convention and visitors bureau which is constantly marketing. The city so there are a lot of families here who depend on. -- -- waged -- tips. And then in turn those families can go out and invest in our economy. They can you know send their children to school and invest in you know going to the dentist in putting gas in your car and going to the grocery store doing all these other things that people don't think about as being related to terrorism. But it's depended on a successful. Tourism industry and we're not going to have that in less we have really strong Frontline ambassadors like Odessa and like everyone. Who waits on a table who works at a bar who is really you know interacting with that gas and visitor when they come to the city. Jared had mentioned injured I think we wanted to clarification if you could on your comment on the ten hand as saying -- minimum wage. Racing -- percent and 25 to 1010. Are you saying that would be good to. Well I mean it would be good for the blue collar workers there -- simply by them you know instantly you know a very large increase in -- of those entry or larger any rate and that would've gotten. If he. There's -- attempt and an as a -- position. On topic tips call we would. Just really drove -- will be the economy what as far as business goes you know without degrees. I'm sorry I have to interrupt -- so what do you mean exactly by that it's. Body by throwing things out and make its way back. Well it it. Are you know waiters that -- generally you know makes a you know on aperture if they make fifteen dollars an hour trips. And then they're making you know now from two dollars an -- ten dollars an hour it's eight dollar. And now or increase. OK. So if this is ace killed service you know. To give someone who is highly skilled shouldn't I think that that would be fair because if they are extremely skilled and that their job. It should be. Well -- more. Sure that's that's a very it's a very subjective thing are wrong you know what would have to. -- it that the -- strong level. Is isn't it across the board increase in pricing though you know roughly 20%. To accommodate. Could be the increase. -- that there will be paying now. And that's not the model that you know the United States operate on. I come you know 44 a couple of businesses or for one city for that matter even a state that matter to change their model. Would would be pretty disrupted. So you're saying if we raise it from 725 to ten town then it's all gonna come out on the menu. Your arsenal had to look okay. You're absolutely well. And it doesn't get it doesn't go ops you know if you go from 725 to ten dollars hour. You know you're talking rightly awarded 40% increase to -- an increased prices we percent. But it will increase. You know based upon. Now labor percentages that -- could it be wrong. Unit increase you know 67%. And in our price increase as a relief should it wage increase. Got everybody else that's inside the rush on that. In between -- that -- -- seven dollars to ten dollars -- Earned -- our -- increases they would have to be bumped up as well. Then you have our match and Social Security taxes repeal -- and Utah and right off the back. You know 11% roughly you know cost of everything on the menu. I think Odessa was saying in the commercials -- me if I'm wrong and ensure that -- -- Tulane 223 dollars per hour whether it be. The combination of minimum wage plus tips things out is a rare thing. I think so it's definitely fair. And that is something I think also I just thought about Tino. Maybe incorporating a standard service fees in circumstances where that mean -- be the actual case. So just my thoughts. -- coming -- who -- I have a question for you this is just this is -- out and you know I understand you're coming from a standpoint of a business model in so -- -- you are just just for clarification. So are you suggesting that the 213. Pretty much it should be at the air in it should be standard because it's been that way for about over twenty years now. That along we at the federal minimum wage increase seen the tip minimum wage has not increase. And I just wanna you know a lot of -- don't I'm not aware of and I'm sure you are aware of it. So we're talking about the 725. Federal minimum -- at tip minimum wage is totally separate from. So. You know what what went out I guess what what I wanna know is. Would you be more comfortable -- it. Just paint a flat rate to your employees. And I'm just trying to find out how would add the in have to make you want to increase. The full cost -- and how is it is it is it that you're saying that you guys a comfortable -- -- that customers in. Subsidizing the pay me for the employees. And I guess that's where you know it gives a little great because. I've heard too many an -- -- times that restaurant employee in employer is our owners and managers. Would trade and they you know it would it would topple a business it would cranks it. And and I'm just trying to figure out you know why is it that you all can't Ina -- awaits command it's the bottom line. Rather the -- who passed the cost to -- passing the costs internally to consumers because either you're gonna increase the menu prices. Or are you gonna continue to be comparable in an hour and current customers. You know subsidizing that net -- Well -- -- our time coming -- those in order arm went in the minimum wage for troops and police and sent it to thirteen. That was when it was half of the minimum wage well what are such power that was somewhere around forty years ago. Mom you know -- this have to minimum wage if you will was never increased with. All you know we're not be opposed to two through increasing -- in -- -- minimum wage right now. Well I'm I'm kind of -- never ever did happen anyways. On the you know bit of the cost of the of the meal if you will where the case now. You know including a trip. Or if there was no tip at all now that the price all that was included. You know at the -- to date in the same bill. Because compensate the what acceptances -- you anybody else in the actual weather be a dishwasher or cook. All of if you increase the the wage -- -- -- awaits. And then -- trips on top of that. Then the price increases but not only up to copper. It increased RB eight dollar jump in minimum wage as well are so. And that's you know -- world would be a result of all would result in some sort of hyperinflation. Which you know it every every economist you know he wanted to import hyper action at all cost. You want to be age and monitored. And and have to slow and steady is is so. Obviously the white shorts let's go to town to town. I good. Is that sort of I I completely agree with inside Africa the ship's name -- but. Gonna travel a lot in Europe and Japan and hold chipping thing which is currently here in the US. And I would agree to put it we make him a flat rate like maybe ten bucks an hour. And then note sits on top of that -- we've done in other countries who works great. Can come true into that cycle -- -- -- and I buy a bottle hundred dollar bottle line. Well bottle by bottle twelve want it. The servers coming out and it's gonna extend the same energy pouring wind but not expected to hit a percentage. Completely out of hand. So that's my point. Okay well I appreciate you calling and thank you very much did you want a common lament yes I actually do you wanna comment on that and that goes back to use. You know having exceptional service the actual art of service there are so much subtleties that go into. A extremely well affected proper. Different. Tactics winds winds and service specifically. And if I'm thinking what's his name again so named Tom I think it was Tom -- so if Tom. Really valued I guess genetic and exceptional -- service then he might actually two opponents. OK I wanted to go back before we take another call to Kelly. Because art tourism industry is enormous. Thank heaven we haven't and it's backed flourishing. But not all tourism jobs -- minimum wage in May start that way but in fact you can build up. Perception in the community that. Tourism jobs only refer to minimum wage jobs and that's not the case at all. You know we like to talk about terrorism as a lifelong profession with lots and lots of career opportunities. Not only with with restaurant servers who are you know professionals in this city and very very respected. And are the front lines to our our visitors and our hospitality culture. But you know if you think of terrorism overall. There are people who are sales people who are out there you know we have a whole team of people convention and visitors bureau in their job every day. Is to sell the city in a different way than -- selling it but thinking about you know the convention groups are gonna come here in 5610. Years from now we -- we include. You know transportation companies caterers. Florists Lilly and company's there are entire companies to produce and -- events from beginning to end so. So tourism overall as a very very broad industry. It has minimum wage stops certainly. It also has executive jobs that you know pay well over six figures so it's there's something in it for every level every profession. And it it's much broader than many people think and I can name several people. Who are executives in the hospitality industry who may be started. You know as a dormant or. Maybe started you know in the at the back of the house banquet kitchen. And you know now they are the general manager not -- of of their hotels that may -- of an entire region of hotels so there really are. Lifelong. Career opportunities and it's much more than that only those minimum wage job. And I I clearly understand what you're saying and yet I'm looking at a desk and I'm thinking for somebody who I'm not gonna talk fast food but fine dining. What you're really saying is if you wanna continue in that profession. As a waiter waitress whatever -- server server then. It should be for more money exactly and so just that by itself you shouldn't have to want to be the general manager. You're saying you value. The position. That it should be paid more and that's what the discussion illness. Whether it be at fine dining and really if you wanna go too fast food another argument -- fast food is that it was started out as a winner job. And that you were trained and it gave you experience and minimum wage was it. And if you -- beyond that then you got extra training he went back to school you did something else but it was never meant to be. We erase the family. And that's where the rub there's. Well in and sell of in to answer back that statement. To respond to that statement. There has been cases because the economy you know just had such awful time what you -- people who were forced back -- yes those positions. And in so when we also think about that the restaurant industry -- and also just talking about fine dining we're talking about your -- you'll learn it back it accidents need -- TGI Friday's and your last full houses you know. They are other restaurants out there that are not just particularly. -- -- And you know and and that probably the majority of the majority of them and soul you know I do agree that there they're people they're people who remembers what organization. That that have moved up the latter. And -- any speak highly of the full service industry. Which is seen to give folks who are starting out a good its ally. And that's always seen is just give them a good starts to Wear it when you're starting out in those positions that they should be paid. Livable wages and asked say that strongly livable wages and and sold Nolan should be. You know it's no -- to feel comfortable with the individual receiving two dollars and thirteen cents an hour. You know and no respect and I and I think what Jared. -- injured brawls and with adult literacy at the La Boca. Has been saying is it correct me if I'm saying that's wrong -- but -- I think -- is saying is the 213 which is a separate minimum wage. From what we're talking about. Perhaps that's been a little under since it it didn't grow when the minimum wage -- OK so maybe that's double life of compromise it's a very interesting discussion I can't think Jared -- enough I can't think Kelly -- Tourism group and Odessa Anton -- we're gonna wrap it up with you people are interested in the a minimum wage issue. Yes if you're interested in a minimum wage issue we we really do it encourage you to read up. On the bare minimum wage act of two -- 2000 at thirteen in contact asked senators Mary Landrieu and David beater if you are for it. Thank you all very very much I think this is conversation we're gonna have again and again I appreciate everybody being an -- -- thank you.