$2.13 an hour?
Pop quiz: What was the federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers in the United States in 1992 (20 years ago)? Answer: $2.13 an hour. Next question: Right now, in 2012, what's the federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers? Answer: Still only $2.13 an hour.
Sad, but true: The federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers hasn’t changed in the last 20 years. And while employers are supposed to make sure tips make up the difference between $2.13 and $7.25 (the federal minimum wage for non-tipped workers), the enforcement is difficult, and tip theft – when restaurant owners take a cut of employee’s tips – is a major problem. Further, tips are very inconsistent, varying widely by day, week, and season, which leaves restaurant workers vulnerable to the $2.13 per hour base pay. [1,2]
This is a bad situation. And women are bearing the brunt of this problem since 71% of servers and 66% of tipped restaurant workers are women.
*Have you, a friend or family member, ever worked, or do you still work, in the restaurant industry as a tipped worker and had to make a living or support a family on $2.13 an hour? Were you raised by parents who worked in restaurants and counted on tips to make up the difference in their wages? How was that for you, your friends, or your family? http://www.momsrising.org/member_stories/topic/tip-stories/
Sharing your experience can help make a big difference. We’re compiling your experiences into a book to share with members of Congress about why the federal minimum wage for tipped workers needs to be raised. Your experiences are powerful. In fact, personal stories are one of our most powerful tools in advocating for family economic security in policies.
Why is it important to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers?
For 20 years now, tipped workers in the restaurant industry and elsewhere have toiled for a miserable wage. As a result, this workforce of mostly women has three times the poverty rate of the rest of the United States workforce, and more than half of all restaurant workers live below the federal poverty line for a family of three. 
We can change this by urging Congress to pass the Working for Adequate Gains for Employment in Services (WAGES) Act which is the first bill ever introduced into Congress focused on tipped workers. This bill would significantly close the wage gap that currently exists between tipped employees and all other workers. 
The WAGES Act would do this in 3 steps:
- It would raise the minimum wage of tipped employees from the current level of $2.13 per hour to $3.75 per hour 90 days after enactment.
- It would then raise the minimum wage of tipped employees to $5.00 per hour one year after enactment.
- Finally, two years after enactment, the tipped minimum wage would be increased to 70% of minimum wage, but no less than $5.50 per hour.
We’ve found that bringing forward the voices of MomsRising members is our most effective way to create change in Congress. So we are collecting and compiling your experiences and will deliver them to elected officials.
*Have you--a friend or family member--ever worked, or do you still work, in the restaurant industry as a tipped worker and had to make a living or support a family on $2.13 an hour? Were you raised by parents who worked in restaurants and counted on tips to make up the difference in their wages? How was that for you, your friends, or your family?
And be sure to pass this blogpost on to friends and family-and post the action link on Facebook too--so others can share their experiences!
Together we’re a powerful force for women and families.
P.S. Big thanks to our friends at Restaurant Opportunities Center United for their work on this important issue!
 Wiser Waitress
 Bill text, 112th Congress (2011-2012) HR631