Emmer Campaign: He Does Not Want To Cut Servers’ Pay (Oh, Really?)

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July 12, 2010 9:10 a.m.

The campaign of Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, has posted a strongly-worded statement saying that he never proposed cutting waiters’ wagers — and that he does not believe they make over $100,000 per year. But wait a minute — let’s check the video.

“Tom was asked if he supported the concept of a tip credit and he responded ‘yes.’ There was no discussion of any detailed plan and certainly no discussion of lowering the current minimum wage for tipped employees from $7.25 to $2.13,” the statement says. The statement later adds, regarding attacks over his having been quoted saying that servers make over $100,000: “Obviously, Tom Emmer does not think most servers make that much money, and anyone saying he does is spreading false information.”

Emmer has gone into damage control mode, and has a listening session coming up Wednesday with servers in order to discuss the issue. This flap has potentially caused some considerable damage for Emmer, on multiple levels. First of all, he might have problems eating at any restaurant ever again. But perhaps more importantly, he really looks out of touch as he tries to campaign for governor with a common-man image.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. In all fairness, the Emmer release is correct in pointing out that support of a tip credit does not automatically imply going all the way down to a $2.13 minimum wage — it could be anywhere between $2.13 and the $7.25 minimum.

However, the problem with Team Emmer’s claims that he does not want to cut tipped employees’ wages, and that he does not believe they make over $100,00, is that the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has posted key clips of the original video online:

“You hear a story today where you have servers, people who are working here. They’ve been provided a job. Because they are able to collect not only a minimum wage–which we all want to make sure people have good living wages–but they are by law required to receive a certain wage. Well guess what? 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.”

Interestingly, the Emmer campaign’s own release includes a YouTube clip from that same event, of Emmer complaining about the minimum wage as an intrusion on the free market, and how it “could kill the goose that laid the golden egg” of the restaurant owners. When asked whether he would repeal the minimum wage entirely, he said he was not sure he could do that, but that a tip credit was more in line with what they were talking about:

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