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State lawmakers push for revamp of tipped worker minimum wage

7:27 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
Sen. Dwight Bullard speaks about his joint bill that he hopes will raise minimum wage for workers who's primary income comes from tips such as servers and restaurant staff. (Karl Etters/Democrat)
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(Tallahassee.com) On the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty," two Florida lawmakers are declaring a war on minimum wage.

Miami Democrats Sen. Dwight Bullard and Rep. Cynthia Stafford introduced a bill Wednesday that would give workers, primarily servers and restaurant staff, a minimum hourly wage of $10.10.

Currently, tipped workers work for wages of $4.91 including the tips that patron leave. below the minimum wage of $7.79, which increased Jan. 1 to match the costs of increased inflation.

"We're really trying to take a proactive step in closing an income equality gap," Bullard said at a news conference.

Bullard said the bill, with versions filed in both the House (HB 385) and the Senate, (SB 456) are meant to meet with a nationwide push to increase minimum wage to $10.10.

Stafford said the potential outcomes were two-fold and would "benefit the workers and benefit the economy and take people and move them above the poverty line."

Jean Souffrant of the Miami-based Restaurant Opportunities Center said even though employers are supposed to match whatever shortcomings are left if tipped wages equal less than minimum wage, more than 75 percent of them fail to do so.

"Tips go up and down every day; every week; every month," Souffrant said.

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Karl Etters Democrat staff writer

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