Working People Deserve to Keep Their Tips – and Now Congress Agrees

Today, tipped workers and advocates across the country won a major victory. In the just-enacted omnibus bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2018, lawmakers included a critically important provision to make clear that tips belong to the hardworking people who earn them, most of whom are women. The law will ensure that the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rule allowing employers to pocket their employees’ tips cannot move forward. Hundreds of thousands of working people joined together in opposition to the Administration’s proposal, and this time, Congress could not ignore their voices.
To recap: back in December, the DOL proposed a dangerous new rule that would have allowed employers to take tips earned by their employees, a measure which could have resulted in employers stealing as much as $5.8 billion of workers’ tips each year—a whopping $4.6 billion of which would have come from women, who make up 2 in 3 tipped workers.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, in February, we found out that DOL concealed its own analysis showing the proposal would cost workers billions of dollars—after claiming it couldn’t estimate the economic effect of its proposed rule. (We now know that it wasn’t just the DOL that concealed the analysis, but senior officials at the White House as well.)
NWLC took action along with hundreds of thousands of others, submitting comments to the DOL in opposition to the proposed rule and calling on the DOL to withdraw it. Thanks to tireless efforts of workers and their allies, DOL agreed to negotiate with lawmakers, and now Congress has acted in a bipartisan agreement to add language to the omnibus bill clarifying that tips belong solely to workers and bolstering the ability of workers to fight back against tip theft. Let’s now hope that the DOL takes additional steps to correct its course, and proposes new regulations in line with its duty to protect working people and ensure that they keep their hard earned tips.
While we are heartened by this piece of the omnibus bill, we are also in solidarity with those who were left out of it—including the Dreamers, who are living in a constant state of emergency as a result of Congressional inaction. While earmarking $1.6 billion for border security, this bill leaves the lives of 800,000 Dreamers on the line and thousands with recently revoked Temporary Protected Status in limbo. Congress must act immediately to protect Dreamers and give these young people the certainty they deserve. So here’s to a win for tipped workers and their families, and to the continued fight for so many more.