Cowgirl server and bartender Sadie Holmes doesn't want to spend her days managing the Save Our Tip Credit in New Mexico Facebook group, hanging around the Roundhouse waiting for debates or learning about state econ law—she's a mother and a hard worker whose livelihood is in jeopardy thanks to a clause in a bill wending its way through the session which would eliminate the "tip credit" and instead require restaurants to pay a higher minimum wage. For service industry folk like Lynn, the passing of HB 31 stands to result in a massive pay cut, since taking tips into account often means much higher wages for those restaurant workers than an hourly rate. We caught up with Lynn to learn more about the cause.
There's been a lot of confusion surrounding this bill. Can you tell us definitively what it is that servers are upset about?
Servers are upset about the fact that this bill is being pushed by people who don't seem to understand the economic structure of our industry. Any job you have to buy permits and licenses to work for shouldn't be considered a minimum-wage job. We're basically contracted workers, and our establishment pays for our income tax and our tips pay our wages. The actions our establishments will likely have to take will result in losing jobs and raising prices and [diners] being stuck with a service charge, which would then be split with the entire staff. So instead of that 20 percent tip I would have gotten from that table, I have to split it.
What would you say to servers who say they don't make as much as others and who are who are pro-HB 31?
I think anyone who isn't making enough tips to live off of or aren't satisfied should simply find a position in which they would be. Counter service jobs like coffee shops or restaurants like Denny's where the menu prices aren't very high so the tipping isn't high are gateways into the industry. You can definitely find positions that would pay more. Most of us in the industry start as bussers, but you don't stay there. The beauty of this industry is that there's so much room for hiring and promoting within.
What do you think might be some of the fallout that people aren't seeing if the bill passes without changes?
New Mexico is a huge tourist attraction but, especially in Santa Fe, people come for the mom and pop [restaurants] that have been here 30 years, for the tradition and the culture—they don't want to go to Tomasita's and serve themselves from the enchilada buffet. You go into a full-service restaurant for the service, but that's what's going to happen. It will turn into self-service establishments. A huge point I've been trying to get across is that none of us are against a minimum wage raise, it's the tip credit clause. It's important to know we are not minimum wage employees. Right now, our establishments pay for our income tax and we live off our tips, but I think it will bump us into a higher tax bracket, and that's more lucrative for the government. A big thing I keep reiterating is that the restaurants that will survive will be the chains and franchises. No one is specifically going to come to Santa Fe to eat at Applebee's; no one is going to go skiing then come back to town for Olive Garden. This will destroy our entire state's economy.