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Legislation to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers in Illinois stalls

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(The Center Square) – Amid a tremendous amount of pushback from restaurant groups and workers in the service industry, a measure to raise the tipped wage has stalled at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

House Bill 5345 from state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, would mandate that tipped workers are paid at least minimum wage, not including tips.

The minimum wage for tipped employees is $8.40, with employers required to make up the difference if tips don’t boost the pay rate to the standard minimum wage.

Hernandez said workers in the service industry are struggling.

“Even with a strong economy across the state, when I talk to many of my constituents I know folks are as worried as ever as to how they’re going to pay their bills,” said Hernandez.

Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said the current system is working and servers earn on average about $28 an hour.

“If this legislation becomes law, here’s what we can expect: Layoffs for servers, bartenders, bussers and runners, fewer hours for servers, and higher costs at the table for the consumer,” said Toia.

He adds that a recent survey shows that 87% of service workers want to keep the current tipping system.

Chicago enacted similar legislation last year, which phases out the city’s tip credit over the span of five years.

With the spring legislative session scheduled to adjourn Friday, the bill has not been called for a vote in either chamber. Hernandez vows to reintroduce the measure during the next legislative session.

“Eliminating the tip credit in Illinois would not only harm our hospitality industry and hardworking tipped employees but also inflict a negative trickle effect on businesses across various sectors,” said Peter Tokar, president of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce. “This legislation threatens to increase operational costs for businesses, leading to potential job losses and decreased consumer spending.”