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Amado Rosa Brooklyn, New York

When Tips Don’t Make The Difference

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My name is Amado Rosa; I am a member of the Workplace Justice committee at Make the Road NY. I have been living in New York for seven years.

I came to this country to make a better future of myself. I have worked many jobs; most recently in the restaurant industry making deliveries. When I arrived to this country, I thought workers would receive better treatment – safe working conditions and a living wage. This has not been the case in my experience.

In my last job at Note Thai in Williamsburg Brooklyn, I spent over a year earning the tipped minimum wage. For a measly $350 per week, I often worked twelve hour shifts for six days per week. To earn more money to cover my bills, I relied on tips that I would earn on top of my base pay. On a good business day, I would take home $40 in tips, but on a bad business day, I would only take home $15 in tips.

Today, I work making deliveries at another Thai restaurant in Williamsburg. My current pay is the standard minimum wage of $8 per hour; however, I am charged $1 for each delivery that I make. On a day when I make twenty-five deliveries, that is $25 that I have to pay my manager from my tips. When you subtract the amount I pay for each delivery, my standard $8 per hour wage is actually less.

Earning such a low pay and relying on tips is very difficult. As low wage earners we live paycheck to paycheck and relying on tips that may never come make our lives much more difficult. Every month I have to worry about my basic expenses like housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare and food.

What workers want is to work hard at a place where they feel worthwhile. I have had lots of hardship over the years – but I feel the most anxiety from not knowing what my take home pay will be because of my dependence on tips.