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Friday, March 22, 2019

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Poor treatment of servers reaches tipping point


They say God moves in mysterious ways. In some ways, God moves people to great acts of mercy, kindness and altruism while in other ways, God moves people to acts of horrific violence and devastation. In the case of a St. Louis pastor, God moved her to be a jerk.

In an article by fox2now.com, the website of Fox’s affiliate in St. Louis, this began at an Applebee’s restaurant on Jan. 25. A server asked a co-worker, Chelsea Welch, to share what a customer had written on a receipt. That customer was Alois Bell, pastor of the Truth In The Word Deliverance Ministries, who, instead of writing kind, encouraging words or passed on some of her divine wisdom, decided to vent her unhappiness about an 18 percent gratuity customary for large parties — Bell dined with a party of ten.

For whatever reason, Bell felt it was more than what the server deserved. In a moment of indignation, she scribbled out the tip and wrote something witty but more than a bit insulting on her receipt.

Bell scribbled, “I give God 10 percent why do you get 18?”

Welch then took a picture of said receipt and uploaded it to Reddit, where it became a viral hit.

“I took a picture of the note because I thought it was comically immature,” Welch said. “I thought it was silly, the fact that someone would not only refuse to tip, not only make themselves out to kind of be a jerk but also play the religion card as an excuse.”

She was later fired when Bell called the Applebee’s to complain.

“It was dumb of me, and I can say that because I take responsibilities for all my actions,” Bell said.

There is now a Facebook page to fire Bell and a petition for Applebee’s to rehire Welch.

This sort of thing happens countless times across the nation — not to the same extent — but it reveals the ignorance some have to the struggles tipped employees face.

In 2007, Congress passed legislation to increase the minimum wage to the current $7.25 per hour even though the U.S. Department of Labor says the current wage for tipped employees is $2.13. That wage has not seen an increase since 1991 — 22 years of inaction. To put it in perspective, the minimum wage for all other employees in 1991 was $4.25.

The nation can no longer overlook tipped workers. On Restaurant Opportunities Centers United’s website, rocunited.org, servers have three times the poverty rate compared to the rest of the workforce in the U.S. Legally, employers have to compensate their employees whose tips don’t add up to the minimum wage, but rocunited.org says, not many do. The times demand an increase for tipped workers.

On July 26, Rep. George Miller, senior democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012. The bill, if enacted, would have raised the wage for tipped workers by annual increases of 85 cents until the tip credit reached 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

The bill died in committee the same day.

Some people don’t tip and others don’t tip enough. There are times when tipped workers can make a lot, but there are other times when they have to rely on their employer to make up the difference. The practices in place for tipped workers are fraught with problems and inconsistencies. People like Bell only exasperate the problem when they don’t want to tip and sometimes go out of their way to make themselves look like big jerks in the process.

A word of advice: If you don’t want to tip, don’t tip. Just don’t make yourself look worse by writing something nasty on a bill.

Alex Caballero is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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