By now, you might’ve seen that multi-millionare and Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was treated to some internet blowback after the receipt from his recent meal at Philly restaurant, PYT, was posted online. He reportedly left a 20 cent tip to the server.
Wednesday night, Charlie Sheen tweeted that he wanted give, Rob Knelly, the server on the receiving end of McCoy’s .03% tip $1,000 dollars.
dear Tommy Up at PYT in Philly. Please tell Rob K I’m pledging 1000 dollars to him for the tip debacle just wanna help. c #NoJudgement
— Charlie Sheen (@charliesheen) September 10, 2014
Of course, when news breaks of a celebrity leaving a lousy or shockingly generous tip for servers, the internet usually has quite a bit to say about it.
What’s usually missing from the chatter is a critique of the reason servers depend on tips so much to begin with.
Let’s be real – most tipped workers won’t have a rich actor come to their rescue the next time someone leaves a bad tip, or none at all.
The reality is that restaurants across Philly, and most states in the US, don’t pay a livable base wage to their tipped workers (or even their entire workforce). Instead, they’re allowed to pay a sub-minimum wage to their tipped workers, as low as $2.13 an hour – the federal rate since 1991.
The tipped minimum wage in Pennsylvania is a staggering $2.83 an hour.
Today, tips aren’t something extra. They are the majority, and sometimes entirety, of a tipped worker’s wages.
Through the sub-minimum wage, the restaurant industry has created a two-tiered wage system in which customers are forced to pay the majority of a tipped worker’s wages. Taxpayers, then, further subsidize the restaurant industry’s poverty wages as servers are twice as likely to need food stamps than the general workforce and are three times as likely to live in poverty. Living off tips takes living paycheck-to-paycheck to a whole new level – it’s literally living from shift-to-shift, and quite often, table-to-table.
So, while we’re sure Rob from PYT is thanking Charlie Sheen for his generosity, let’s start holding restaurant owners accountable to paying a living base wage to all their workers.
You can show your support for living wages by getting updates from our One Fair Wage campaign and downloading our Diners Guide App, which rates the wages and business practices of the most popular restaurants brands in the U.S.