A very recent proposal from Trump’s Department of Labor should clarify once and for all that there is a concerted government-wide crusade to hand over all of the nation’s wealth to the rich and their corporations. The massive “wealth transfer” Republicans and Trump are pushing in what they call “tax reform” is a major part of the GOP’s “reverse Robin Hood” crusade because it does steal from the poor and gives to the rich. It is not actually direct theft, but it is a monumental transfer of wealth and services from the poor to the rich and corporations. However, a hardly reported Labor Department proposal does literally take money away from low-wage workers and gives it directly to their employers.
Although the Department of Labor announced the rule change about ten days ago, it is crucial for the public to be aware and get active because the latest reverse Robin Hood proposal goes into effect in about 20 days; that is how long the public has to weigh in and comment on Trump legalizing theft from some of the lowest paid workers in America. And it is noteworthy that this particular theft, like the GOP’s tax reform, will benefit Trump personally as well as his thieving cohorts at the National Restaurant Association – “the other NRA.”
The latest act of robbing the poor is a Trump and the NRA-driven proposal rescinding an Obama-era rule that helped the lowest paid workers in America keep the pay their hard work earned. What Trump’s Labor Department is proposing is theft by corporate special interests and nothing else. There is no other way to frame a proposal that allows restaurant owners to seize tips that customers leave for the “wait staff” and keep it for themselves.
Most people know, or they should know, that the lowest paid workers in America are restaurant workers, and that is particularly true of “wait staff.”
According to the Department of Labor:
“A tipped employee engages in an occupation in which he or she customarily and regularly receives more than $30 per month in tips. An employer of a tipped employee is only required to pay $2.13 per hour in direct wages if that amount combined with the tips received at least equals the federal minimum wage.” (author bold)
The Federal Minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour and in any city in America it is a poverty wage; which is all this administration and Republican Congress will ever allow. Rescinding the current DOL law will ensure that restaurant owners can legally keep all “wait staff” at that minimum wage. It also means that restaurant owners can legally rob $6.1 billion from millions of restaurant employees despite the customers specifically intended the tips to go to servers, waiters or waitresses.
To be a bit more accurate, restaurant owners won’t literally be taking the money out of wait staff’s pockets; it is much worse than that. The new rule allows restaurant owners, not the wait staff, to “collect all tips left by patrons and do whatever they want with them regardless of what diners intended, without ever informing the diners.”
It is noteworthy that this assault on restaurant workers was lobbied heavily by the National Restaurant Association; that particularly nasty “NRA” has a very cozy relationship with Trump the hotel magnate and his “administration.” The idea of robbing from employees is not a new one for the NRA or Trump, so it is all but a foregone conclusion the legalized theft will be implemented. As Newsweek pointed out, the only question remaining is whether Trump’s Labor Secretary “will give the public enough information to have a fair chance to weigh in during the 30-day public comment period.”
Based on what is “a bad policy that the administration is trying to hide behind a very sneaky process,” it is unlikely the public will be given anything in the form of information. There was, and is, precious little information or reporting that the DOL is on the verge of legalizing wage theft because the administration knows the public will not look fondly on another Trump “reverse Robin Hood” proposal even if they don’t know what it will cost the millions of workers it will adversely affect.
In spite of a law requiring it, the Trump Labor Department is rejecting the legal mandate that the proposed rule change requires estimates of the cost to the employees so the public can make informed comments about restaurant owners stealing from employees that are predominately female. The majority of the “owners” are not small mom and pop operations either; they are big corporate organizations including those like Trump’s hotels.
This is an abomination for the roughly 2.8 million people working as “wait staff” at a median wage of $19,900 annually as of the end of 2016. That is poverty wage, and it is the wage before Trump allows restaurant owners to rob what little “tips” servers, waiters, and waitresses are earning now. It is little wonder the Department of Labor is attempting to use stealth and subterfuge to get the proposal enacted without the public’s input during a comment period that very few Americans have heard about – by design of the National Restaurant Association and Trump. The NRA and Trump have been actively conspiring to cut restaurant employees wages, benefits and workplace protections since early in Trump’s tenure and it is a blatant “reverse Robin Hood” attack few Americans are aware of.
There is an effort to stop what Newsweek’s Christine Owens and Sharon Block call Trump wanting customers to pay restaurant owners for their meals and then tip the restaurant owners and not the people toiling to serve the diners. Over at Credo Action there is a handy time-saving way to comment on Trump’s proposal to legalize restaurant owners, including himself, effort to steal money intended for the underpaid staff serving their food.
Restaurant workers, particularly “wait staff,” are not only underpaid to the point they have to depend on customers’ tips to survive, they suffer a level of abuse few other occupations offer. This robbery is not Trump’s first foray into abusing the people that work in his hotels and restaurants, but it is, unlike ‘union-busting’ schemes, a direct and blatant theft of workers’ pay that he will profit from through his businesses. There isn’t much regular Americans can do to protest Trump’s dirty profiteering because he lives in the White House, but they can “weigh in” and comment on the Department of Labor website; something this author encourages everyone to do.