Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, made an interesting campaign stop over the weekend as part of his damage control efforts for having supported policies that would effectively lower the minimum wage for waiters: He became a "waiter for a day," serving tables at a Mexican restaurant.
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In the Emmer campaign's Web video of the event, the Republican declared his solidarity with waiters against people who criticize them: "Some guy on the radio today was saying how it's unskilled labor. I'll tell you what. I dare him to try and carry a tray with 25 pounds of hot, steaming dishes on top of it, be able to know which ones they're going to, be able to run back and pick up the next table and be smiling and happy for the third. You know, this is not an easy job, this is hard work, and the servers get exactly what they put into it. The good ones get rewarded very well. It's just a good reminder, it's not as if we didn't know that. It's just a good reminder -- it's good to walk a mile in someone else's shoes."
Last week, Emmer indicated his support for a policy known as a "tip credit." Minnesota is one of seven states that do not permit employers to pay less than the standard minimum wage to tipped workers. Federal law permits tipped workers' wages to be as low as $2.13 per hour, absent state regulation to the contrary, with tips given to workers credited against the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour employers are required to pay. Depending on implementation, a tip credit could lower the basic wage to anywhere between $2.13 and $7.25, plus tips.
What especially got Emmer in trouble was this claim: "With the tips that they get to take home, there are some that are earning over $100,000 a year -- more than the very people that are providing the jobs and investing not only their life savings but their family's future. Something has to be done about that."