MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — A brawl broke out at a rally held by tipped workers in Montgomery County ahead of a public hearing that could impact their wages.
Workers both for and against a bill that would change the tipped wage system rallied ahead of the hearing. As servers, bartenders and other tipped workers went into the building, things got physical.
The bill – Bill 35-23 – would adjust the minimum wage for tipped workers and phase out the tip credit amount currently under County minimum wage law. The bill would raise the minimum base wage for tipped restaurant workers, a move that was considered by Prince George’s County earlier this month.
Servers and bartenders against the bill say the system is working just fine.
“It just does not happen where they don’t make enough in tips to make at least minimum wage. And frankly, they’re probably upset if they only made $30 an hour that day,” said Marshall Weston of the Restaurant Association of Maryland.
Another concern among workers against the bill, the change could increase costs for restaurants and customers, leading to lower tips.
“People that are already paid minimum wage can still receive tips. Nobody’s saying no tips,” said Ifeoma Ezimako of One Fair Wage, an organization advocating for the bill.
“If you provide less than average service, you’re going to get less than average tips. So, those are the people that are for it,” said Elena James, a server in Montgomery County.
There was no vote on the bill Tuesday, and there’s still more work to be done before that happens.
The bill is likely to go back to committee before it’s actually voted on in 2024.