Tipping has always been a heavily debated topic. Some don’t like it. Some believe it’s necessary. Concerned members of the food and beverage industry and local lawmakers gathered on April 22 to debate an Illinois bill that would potentially change tipping as we know it. The proposed bill is not only gaining steam, but also opposition.

The proposal in question is House Bill 5345, which is sponsored by State Representative Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez. Some local restaurant owners fear they won’t survive the passage of this bill. That’s why people against the bill gathered Monday to share their concerns at Frank’s Pizza in Silvis.

(Michael Frachalla, OurQuadCities.com)

Right now, the minimum wage in Illinois is $14 an hour. Those whose earnings include tips get $8.40 an hour. They still make at least the minimum wage through a combination of wages and tips. Employers have to make up the difference when those tips fall short.

The new proposal would get rid of the sub-minimum wage ($8.40) and raise the hourly rate for tipped employees to $14 with tips added on top of that. Illinois State Senator Mike Halpin says this is not a simple, clear-cut issue to fix. 

“I’m someone that wants to make sure that were lifting wages for all workers,” Halpin said. “At the same time, we have to understand that they’re businesses here that could be adversely affected by some of the changes we make in Springfield so it’s good to have that conversation and listen to those concerns.” 

Some tipped workers argue removing the sub-minimum wage will provide tipped employees with a steadier income and attract more employees.

“If you get a higher wage, more folks are going to want to come work for you and you will be able to choose the best employee to work for you at the wage,” Halpin said. “I do feel we have some strengths,” he added.

The Illinois Licensed Beverage Association’s Executive Secretary, Connie Cornmesser, fears the bill will cause economic turmoil for many businesses. She says restaurant workers will get a decreased income because people will be less inclined to tip. 

“People say, ‘OK, they are going to make more money’, At the end of the day, no they are not,” Cornmesser said. “Once they start making more money, as a wage, then the tips are going to get lesser and lesser.”

(Michael Frachalla, OurQuadCities.com)

She also fears more money will come out of consumer’s pockets.

“As wages go up, so does everything else on the business side. Your product goes up,” Cornmesser said. “You have to raise [prices] because you cannot afford to sell it for what you were previously selling it at.”

Halpin hopes Illinois lawmakers take a slow approach to this bill and find a way to balance the needs of businesses, and its employees.

“You should be able to go into a restaurant and know that you’re getting good service but also know that worker is able to take care of themselves and maybe their family,” Halpin said.

Hernandez agrees there needs to be more discussion before this bill comes to a vote.