We have previously noted that Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) expects cashiers to be cops, while Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY) has entrusted enforcement of his COVID-19 executive orders to waitresses and bartenders. Well, the New York Post, which covers news apparently not fit to print in The New York Times, reported on just what can happen to the lower-wage people who do try to enforce those governors’ orders:
By Kenneth Garger | October 8, 2020 | 8:37 PM EDT
A Pennsylvania waitress claims she was stiffed on a tip, and instead got a rude message, after she reminded her customers to wear a mask when not seated.
Instead of a dollar amount, the customers just wrote “Mask” on the designated tip line for the $23.50 bill at John Henry’s Pub of Ardmore.
“When your staff politely asks a customer to wear a mask until seated, this is how they are disrespected,” the restaurant wrote in a Sunday Facebook post.
“Totally unacceptable. “YOU” should be ashamed of yourself!!”
The waitress, Jamie Ledwith, told NBC Philadelphia the customers refused to wear the mask while walking through the bar area.
“They brushed it off their shoulder and they said, ‘Well, you know it’s no big deal, we’re going to sit down anyway,’” Ledwith told the outlet.
At 15%, the tip would have been $3.53, while 20% would have worked out to $4.70. Had it been me, the tip would have been $4.50, simply because I like to make the transaction an even dollar amount.
The Post article doesn’t tell us what Miss Ledwith makes per hour, but people in her position are frequently paid significantly less than minimum wage and are expected to survive on tips. It isn’t bad: a good waitress can easily make far more than minimum wage when her tips are considered, and it’s how management encourages good service. I can hope that she did alright on the evening through other customers.
But this is what Governors Wolf and Beshear, and others,² are doing: by pushing down the enforcement of their mandatory facemask orders to the lowest paid people in the hospitality industry, they are both saddling them with extra, unwanted duties, but cutting their pay for doing it. We don’t know how many cashiers and bartenders and waitresses¹ are getting reduced or zero tips from customers annoyed about them enforcing the mask mandates, but it’s clearly not zero. Combine that with the reduced traffic flow in restaurants and bars mandated by capacity restrictions — and, as we noted, Governor Beshear wasn’t at all concerned with how many might go out of business — and there is reduced opportunity for the staff to earn tips, for those who managed to keep their jobs in the first place.
The elites who put the economic restrictions in place were never the ones who were going to be thrown into poverty due to them. Governors don’t get laid off, and mayors have their guaranteed terms in office. Those who could work from home are almost always in well-paying jobs.³
But waitresses and cooks can’t work from home; their businesses have to be open, or they are out of a job.
Low-wage workers in America have suffered the worst economic pain of the pandemic. Social distancing measures taken in response to COVID-19 resulted in massive job loss concentrated among lower-wage workers. Retail and leisure/hospitality, which typically offer lower wages than other industries, took the hardest hits. In April, retail posted a 17.1 percent unemployment rate, totaling 3.2 million people. In leisure/hospitality, the unemployment rate was a staggering 39.3 percent, totaling 4.8 million people.
Workers with the least education have suffered the most. In April, unemployment rose to 21.2 percent for those with less than a high school degree—more than twice as high as the 8.4 percent unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Financial shocks and unemployment are widespread, but Black and Latino or Hispanic workers are disproportionately affected.
Yet, when economic restrictions were loosened, though not ended, the people who managed to come back to work were saddled with the additional burden of enforcing the mandatory mask orders. The patricians pushing through these oh-so-well-intended executive orders have no flaming idea what they are doing to the plebeians who are affected, and who have to enforce the restrictions on others.
¹ – One thing that struck me when we were in Italy: there, the vast majority of the ‘servers’ are male, while in the US, the majority are heavily female.
² – In the Pyrite State, the idiot Governor, Gavin Newsom (D-CA) sent out a tweet saying that people dining in restaurants needed to replace their masks between bites!, though the official regulations do not mandate that.
³ – Full disclosure: no one in my family lost a job, or even had reduced income, due to the economic restrictions.
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