CARSON CITY — A coalition of restaurants, servers and hospitality organizations has mobilized to offer legislators “A Better Way” to implement a minimum wage policy in Nevada, and launched its efforts Friday via its new website and online resource: https://savemyjobnevada.com.
The “Save My Job Nevada” campaign endorses a series of minimum wage compromises that are supported by a broad array in the industry and can be adopted as a model by state legislators currently debating the minimum wage topic in other states around the country. Doing so would achieve a fair and equitable outcome for small and family-owned businesses — and their employees — while avoiding the potentially devastating consequences that have been seen in other states due to one-size-fits-all approaches.
Coalition members support a $12 minimum wage, but call for lawmakers to recognize and respect economic and cultural differences between large tourist and entertainment-oriented cities like Reno and Las Vegas and smaller regional towns. They noted that restaurants typically operate on slim 3-5 percent profit margins and that rural and small town establishments — and their employees — will be hardest hit from rushed or ill-conceived labor cost increases.
Their recommendations also include provisions to define how overtime works within a 24-hour day, implementing a youth wage, a training wage as well as establishing a tip credit. This credit is an essential part of professional server compensation and ensures the top-caliber service for which Nevada is known while also providing a lucrative incentive to attract and retain experienced servers as employees.
“We need to understand, states across the country which have considered instituting these changes have been lobbied hard by tipped employees and small business owners imploring legislators not to interfere with the way they do business,” said Brian McMullan, owner of McMullan’s Irish Pub in Las Vegas. “Our workers are like family. We don’t want to have to do anything that would force us to cut jobs or people’s hours. But without some of these provisions, we will have to resort to that.”
Those most affected by the changes, the restaurant and tavern workers, are also speaking out.
“I make a very good living and support my family with my job,” said Rachael Delong, a local bar-tender. “I don’t want anything to change that system. It’s working and allowing us to make good wages.”
Leaders pointed out that drastic one-size-fits-all minimum wage hikes have had negative conse-quences in other states and suggested that Nevada could learn from mistakes made by rushed action elsewhere, such as in California and New York City. Recent media coverage has consistently demonstrated that dramatic labor cost hikes in other states lead to higher customer charges, new service fees, reduction of hours and jobs, and increased automation and worker displacement.
Save My Job Nevada campaign supporters also noted that restaurant and hospitality industry establishments often serve as the first job for one in three Americans where these entry-level workers gain vital skills and experience before moving up the career ladder.