Will Tipped Workers Be OK?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

The Wall Street Journal tells us about the plight of tipped workers who are now unemployed:

Take Ian Prebo. On a good night, Mr. Prebo was making $400 in tips bartending at Seattle’s Blue Moon Tavern, which closed this month after a patron caught Covid-19. Since then, like many bars and restaurants across the country, Blue Moon Tavern—which can’t provide takeout or delivery—has remained shut.

Mr. Prebo, 36 years old, estimated roughly three-quarters of his monthly $3,500 income was from tips. After applying for unemployment benefits, he was told he would receive $188 a week. “I have customers who take care of me,” he said. “But the flip side is in a catastrophic event like this, my income is completely wiped out.”

Why does the Journal use this as its opening anecdote? As they acknowledge farther down, the median wage for tipped workers is a meager $2,000 per month, which means that Prebo’s experience is not even remotely typical. What’s more, the expanded unemployment insurance in the coronavirus rescue bill will pay at least $800 per week for low-wage workers. Virtually all of them will lose no income, and some might even make more than they did while working.

These are tough times, and the benefits from the rescue bill are still a few weeks away. I have nothing but sympathy for low-wage workers who are scared about what’s happening. Nevertheless, we’ve just passed legislation that will make up the lost income for nearly all of them, and surely that should rate more than a passing sentence midway through the story?

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate