When the federal government froze minimum wage for tipped workers at $2.13 per hour in 1996, the wage amounted to half the federal minimum wage for non-tipped workers. Tips were supposed to make up the difference and, if they didn’t, the law required companies to do so. Since then, that $2.13 per hour has fallen to 29% of the minimum wage.
A bill proposed this session would unfreeze the tipped minimum, a move called for by President Barack Obama. Supporters say the change is necessary to give restaurant workers a wage they can count on and may actually save restaurants money in the long run because it will reduce turnover and keep highly productive workers on staff. Detractors say the measure will push down job creation, put workers out of a job and drive up meal prices for consumers.
The provision is part of a larger bill to raise the overall minimum wage to $10.10 in two years and provide for annual increases thereafter. (read more…)
Gun control is high on the list among lawmakers at the state and federal level in the wake of December’s tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and it’s an issue that affects restaurants and bars in states where laws allow patrons to pack.
In a 2010 post, we told you about the handful of states that were passing bills to allow people with permits to bring weapons into bars, along with 18 states that permit weapons in restaurants that don’t serve alcohol, as well as 20 states that hadn’t addressed the issue one way or the other.
Now, as some states move to enact stricter gun-control laws, North Carolina lawmakers have proposed a slew of bills that go in the opposite direction, including a measure to allow weapons in restaurants, Wilmington’s Star-News reports. State law prohibits concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, which effectively bans firearms from most eateries, The Wilson Times reports. (read more…)
Barring any last-minute legal stays, the highly debated ban on big sugary soft drinks in New York City is set to take effect Tuesday, and eateries around the city are preparing to serve smaller-sized sodas, The Wall Street Journal reported. The rule prohibits establishments from selling sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces, an issue for Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, which scrambled to replace 1,000 24-ounce glasses at five New York City restaurants with smaller tumblers, CEO Josh Lebowitz told the Journal.
Movie theater concession stands also are subject to the new soda-size rule, a change Movieworld in Queens expects will bite into its annual sales to the tune of between $20,000 and $30,000, general manager Russell Levinson told WABC-TV.
Starbucks told Yahoo News that it doesn’t plan to immediately comply, citing lawsuits that may ultimately strike the law from the city’s books. Trade groups, including the American Beverage Association, the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State and the National Restaurant Association, have filed a lawsuit in an effort to overturn the law, saying it puts city establishments at a disadvantage compared with stores such as 7-Eleven that operate in the city but are regulated under state laws and so aren’t subject to the ban. (read more…)
The idea of a national $9-per-hour minimum wage has spurred debate in the restaurant industry among workers trying to make a living and operators worried that higher labor costs could put more pressure on profit. Many chains are staying mum on the subject, as Nation’s Restaurant News reported, while one analyst is predicting which ones would feel the biggest pinch.
In general, chains with most of their units in higher-wage labor markets are likely to feel less pain from an increase in minimum wage than those concentrated largely in lower-wage states, says Sharon Zackfia of William Blair. “We estimate the overall unit-level labor pressure resulting from a minimum-wage hike could range from as high as roughly 21 percent for Sonic to as low as 14 percent for BJ’s [Restaurants], assuming a $9 federal minimum wage,” she wrote in a research note.
Both sides of the debate can look at past increases to shore up their arguments. (read more…)
When the Organic Trade Association releases 2012 data this spring, it expects to report higher sales of organic fruits and vegetables, based on anecdotes and early data from growers, including Watsonville, Calif.-based Lakeside Organic Gardens, which saw its sales grow 30% from 2011 to 2012, according to The Packer.
In June, the U.S. Agriculture Department entered into an agreement with the EU to allow products certified as organic in Europe to be sold in the U.S. and vice versa, a move cheered by organic producers and food companies eager to expand international trade. For U.S. producers, exports of select organic products to Europe jumped dramatically between 2011 and 2012, including organic grapefruit which jumped from zero to 25,783 metric tons, The Packer reported.
That agreement supports growth of organic farming, but in the waning hours of 2012, Congress made a decision that’s not going over nearly as well. Frantically working to stave off a dramatic rise in milk and dairy prices, Congress voted to extend the 2008 farm bill through September, with some key changes. (read more…)