Ryan Aston’s Jan. 21 Local Opinions essay, “I’m your bartender. I don’t want a raise,” advocated against a higher minimum wage for tipped employees. I, too, am a bartender in the District, but I support the One Fair Wage ballot initiative. Unlike Mr. Aston, I don’t make anywhere near $45 an hour. I have gone home with nothing on several occasions, because the D.C. Department of Employment Services does not enforce the part of the tip credit that ensures that everyone makes the minimum wage.
I have had to deal with drunk customers’ sexual advances; being asked by management to show a little more cleavage to make a better tip; having a co-worker touch my chest “accidentally”; having to refrain from speaking up against the “accidental” touching for fear that he would be fired; being passed over for “good” shifts, which end up going to younger, perkier-bosomed co-workers.
The seven states that have eliminated the sub-minimum wage (and still allow tips) have half the rate of sexual harassment, likely because women know they are making a base wage from their employer and are less likely to put up with unwanted behavior.
The D.C. ballot initiative does not call for the elimination of tips, only for the elimination of the sub-minimum wage. We are professionals and deserve professional wages. I look forward to the end of harassment and of being underpaid. If those things are part of the “great American bar culture,” its end cannot come any faster.
Thea Bryan, Bethesda