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Zack Hutchins
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March 31, 2000

Minimum wage for food-service workers who get tips will rise to $3.30 an hour, not $3.50

The Legislature and Governor Pataki have agreed to increase the state's minimum wage for waiters and other food-service workers who get tips from the current $2.90 an hour to $3.30 — rather than the $3.50 an hour that might have applied under the initial version of the state's new minimum wage law.

Under legislation adopted late last year, New York's basic minimum wage is being increased from $4.25, where it has been since 1991, to $5.15 an hour, effective March 31.

Food-service workers who get tips have traditionally been covered by a lower minimum wage, on the theory that their tip income will make up the difference, or more. Under the old law, their minimum was $2.90 an hour. The new law tied the food-service wage to the basic minimum wage under a formula that some said could result in a new food-service minimum of $3.50 an hour.

Governor Pataki and legislative leaders were concerned, however, that such a jump in food-service wages would damage the restaurant industry and its job base. They agreed to clarifying legislation pegging the new food-service minimum at $3.30, not $3.50. The Senate and Assembly passed the bill on March 30, and the Governor's office said he was signing it on March 31.