Ohio bill on pooling tips more about hypocrisy than fairness

By Maggie Thurber | for Ohio Watchdog

TIP FAIRNESS: The Ohio Tip Fairness Act would ban the practice of pooling tips and let wait staff keep the individual gratuities their service earned.

Rep. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, is calling House Bill 534 the Tip Fairness Act.

The move would prohibit pooling tips in Ohio.

Tip pooling happens when employers insist that all tips left by customers be collected and distributed among workers. This happens primarily in the food industry, where such pooled tips are shared with the servers who earn them along with bus staff and others.

Antonio thinks this isn’t right. She believes wait staff should keep the tips they earn through performance.

But wait a minute. Antonio is a Democrat. Doesn’t her party oppose merit pay?

Tips are an excellent example of merit pay because performance determines the amount of compensation. Does Antonio’s party know she’s sponsoring a bill that legalizes the concept of merit pay for restaurant servers?

It seems that most Democrats support other forms of collectivism, in which everyone contributes as they can yet all share equally in the outcome. It’s part of the logic for food stamps, Aid to Dependent Children and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

These programs are all based on the concept of government collecting income (tax revenue) and then redistributing it to those who don’t have it.

And it’s the Democratic Party that’s always insisting on fairness.

So, why isn’t it fair for the people who bus the tables to get a portion of the tip left by the customer? They’re contributing to the dining experience and helping the wait staff provide a good service. Aren’t they “entitled” to a portion of the reward?

That’s the logic employed by many unions, supported primarily by Democrats, when it comes to bonuses and CEO pay. The employees work so hard making the products, the argument goes, so surely they’re “entitled” to share as equally as the CEO does in the profits from those products.

Isn’t PresidentObama and other Democrat leaders always talking about “income inequality’? What could be more unequal than to ban sharing tips among all those who contributed to whatever the patron leaves?

Is Antonio disagreeing with the president when she supports inequality in the distribution of tipping?

On the other hand, conservatives and Republicans (not always the same thing) traditionally support Individual performance rewarded individually.

Does Antonio realize her insistence that the people doing the work get to keep the fruits of their labor mean she’s embracing a key conservative tenant? Will she be punished by her party as a result? What will her union supporters say?

Most restaurant patrons aren’t even aware of the arrangements employers make with employees, though most might be surprised to learn the tip they left for their favorite waitress didn’t go directly to her, but rather to a pool split among everyone.

Regardless of your position on the practice, the real issue isn’t the bill and whether or not it’s a good idea for employers to pool tips.

What Ohioans should be concerned about is the hypocrisy of supporting a bill that insists upon rewards for individual performance while opposing the same concept in every other aspect of political policy.

But in this political environment it’s not likely the contradiction will even be noticed, much less mentioned. Hypocrisy is only what the other side does as double standards for your own side abound.

You can contact Maggie Thurber via email at maggie@ohiowatchdog.org

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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