As the debate over a national $15 minimum wage continues, one of the primary rhetorical battlegrounds in recent months has been the restaurant world. Between the general U.S. standard of paying less than standard minimum wage with the expectation that tips will supplement that base income, and public arguments over whether most hourly labor warrants a pay increase at all, food workers have found themselves at the center of a major cultural argument.
Congress continues to push back and forth on the issue, so it’s been a consistent topic of discussion in the daily news cycle. This has also led to the occasional bit of evidence that many people still don’t have a full handle on the way that tipping works, or where and when it’s most appropriate. For instance, consider this widely shared Fox & Friends clip, in which co-host Ainsley Earhardt appears to argue for friendly fast food service generating tips. (Note: the following Tweet has been attached for video purposes, and is not intended as a reflection of The Takeout’s stance on the matter.)
If you can’t watch the clip, Earhardt’s remarks: “We were all in high school, we were in college... when I was waiting tables. Unless you’re at a very fine restaurant, most of those people... at the fine restaurants, that is their career. But they make tons of money. If you’re working at a McDonald’s, or at a small little restaurant where you’re making tips, you’re right. If you’re nice to the people, you make a lot of money.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade then adds that “other restaurants can hear about you, and then they want you.”
While it’s certainly easy enough to dogpile on the notion that McDonald’s workers are supplementing their income with cash tips, or that fast-food workers are guaranteed good wages for providing good service, Earhardt’s misconception is not an entirely uncommon one. An inquiry into restaurant tipping (as written by our own Kevin Pang) suggests that “At fast-food restaurants, 81 percent of diners say they don’t tip.” The curiosity then comes from that remaining 19%, who’re either claiming to tip fast food workers (a practice that, at least anecdotally, none of the Takeout staff has witnessed firsthand), or lied on their surveys. Whether Earhardt is actively suggesting that fast-food employees commonly collect tips, or that their pay is somehow impacted by the level of service given, she’s incorrect in either case.
Until a solution is reached that can adequately take care of restaurant workers, the discussion continues. We look forward to the nuanced, respectful, and fully considered dialogue on this topic in the comments below.