From Huff Po:
The Florida restaurant lobby is pushing a bill that would drop the minimum wage for the state's restaurant servers and other tipped employees from $4.65 to $2.13 an hour, creating the rare possibility of a legal wage floor being lowered rather than raised.
The bill under consideration by the state's tourism and commerce committee, SPB 7210, would allow restaurants to ditch the state's minimum wage for servers in favor of the lower, federal one, provided the businesses guarantee that their workers will earn at least $9.98 per hour after tips. If the bill were passed, servers would end up taking home less pay, and customers would be paying a greater share of the salary burden.
The state senate's website does not disclose who introduced the bill, though it appears to have the wide support of Florida's hospitality industry, including the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. Carol Dover, the group's executive director, said in an Orlando Sentinel article that the industry is saddled by rising pay and health care costs and "it's going to be a matter of time before the back of this industry breaks ... Minimum wage is killing them."
Worker advocacy groups are pushing back against the bill, arguing that the restaurant industry's dire talk is baseless. The National Restaurant Association, the foremost lobbying group for the industry, recently released its 2012 forecast, which predicted record sales and continued job growth.
"That's nationwide, and certainly Florida is no exception," says Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which advocates for restaurant employees. "We think [the Florida bill] is both regressive and terribly immoral. To be reducing workers' wages at a time when profits are at a record high is pure greed."
According to the Sentinel article, one of the backers of the bill is Tampa-based OSI Restaurant Partners, owner of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill chains. OSI Partners gave more than $120,000 to 32 Florida Republicans -- and $500 to one Democrat -- during the 2010 election cycle, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
In most states, the minimum wage for waiters and other tipped employees is set lower than the minimum wage for other workers. Servers everywhere must be paid at least $2.13 per hour by their employer according to federal law, although many states opt to set that minimum much higher.