Brown blasts proposal to deny tips

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Hubbard, Ohio, worker Cristal Hale on a news conference call Wednesday to oppose a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that would force workers to forfeit their hard-earned tips to employers. The administration has argued the rule is about encouraging so-called tip pooling, which would spread tips around to multiple workers. But the rule would allow employers to keep workers’ tips if they chose to do so, and does not require them to be shared with workers.

According to reports, DOL’s own internal review found that workers would lose billions of dollars under the rule. And DOL allegedly tried to cover up the findings of that report.

“Tips belong to the workers who earn them, period,” Brown said. “We need laws that reflect that, and that reward work.”

In February, reports indicated DOL tossed out an unfavorable review of the rule, after the analysis revealed it would actually cause workers to lose out on billions of dollars.

Following these reports, Brown joined 23 Senate colleagues in a letter to Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta slamming the DOL decision to conceal evidence from the public, and force a regulation taking money out of the pockets of workers.

Under the proposed rule, employers could keep the tips that workers earn as long as all workers are paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Low-wage workers — two-thirds of whom are women — already struggle to support themselves and their families, experiencing poverty rates twice as high as rates for all working people.

Brown was joined on the call by Hale, a worker in the service industry who relies on tips to help support her family.

“I went back into the restaurant business so I could help my husband pay bills and feed our family while still working a small amount of hours so I can watch my son grow,” Hale said. “Even though my husband works 60 to 70-plus hours a paycheck, we still rely on my tips to help make ends meet.”

Brown unveiled a plan last year to increase the value of work in America for all workers. As part of his plan, Brown has introduced legislation to provide employees advanced notice of their work schedules, expand two anti-poverty tax credits that help put money back in the pockets of working Ohioans and families, provide paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave, expand overtime pay and strengthen collective bargaining rights.