Outback Steakhouse pushing bill that would cut wages for waiters

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A bill that would cut the hourly wages of many waiters and waitresses was unveiled Tuesday by a Florida Senate committee in Tallahassee, writes Sandra Pedicini.

The bill (SPB 7201) would slash Florida’s minimum wage for tipped workers — now $4.65 an hour — to the federal tipped minimum of $2.13 for companies that agree to guarantee that with wages and tips their employees will make at least $9.98 an hour.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is urging legislators to pass the bill. The trade group says Florida’s tipped minimum is crippling eateries financially, causing companies to cut back workforces and open fewer restaurants in Florida. Tampa-based OSI Restaurant Partners, parent company of Outback Steakhouse restaurants, also supports the bill.

Critics say the bill will take money from workers who cannot afford it. “Anything that reduces people’s wages is not what we need right now,” said Emily Eisenhauer, an associate with the Research Institute on Social & Economic Policy at Florida International University.

In Florida, the average hourly wage for a waiter or waitress is just under $10 per hour, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.