The Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, owned by President Donald Trump, is once again seeking to hire foreign workers, according to an H2-B visa filing made public yesterday.
The application seeks to hire 40 waiters and waitresses a minimum of $12.68 per hour, and “overtime possible but not guaranteed” at $19.02 per hour. Minimum wage in Florida is currently $8.25 per hour, and tipped employees like waitstaff may be paid a minimum of $5.23 per hour, as long as their tips are sufficient. If the sum of an employee’s wage plus tips does not reach the minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference.
Mar-A-Lago and other properties owned by Trump have a long history of hiring foreign workers, a reliance on cheaper labor that drew criticism during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, as the Tampa Bay Times noted:
Trump has hired hundreds of foreign workers over the years and has done so at his other clubs. Opponents, including Sen. Marco Rubio, tried to use it against him to no effect.
“When you bring someone in on one of these visas they can’t go work for anybody else,” Rubio said during a presidential debate. “They either work for you or they have to go back home. You basically have them captive, so you don’t have to worry about competing for higher wages with another hotel down the street. And, that’s why you bring workers from abroad.”
Trump had claimed that hiring foreign workers was necessary to fill a need for short term workers, and that it was difficult to find workers in such a “very hot area.”
The reality is that the South Florida restaurant industry is competitive, due to the influx of tourists plus wealthy residents, who frequent the area restaurants and generally tip well.
According to WLRN, there are approximately 60,000 people working as waiters and waitresses in South Florida. A Sun Sentinel review of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that servers and fast-food cooks in Palm Beach (where Mar-A-Lago is located), Broward, and Miami-Dade counties make more than the national average for those professions:
But cooks and servers here can earn more than in other parts of the country because they are in higher demand, South Florida restaurant owners say.
Elliot Wolf, who owns Red Cow, The Foxy Brown, Coconuts, G & B Oyster Bar, said there are also many opportunities for restaurant workers have many opportunities to earn more money. “It’s a competitive market,” Wolf said.
He estimated, for example, that servers should earn about $100 in tips during lunch time. “At dinner it’s more than that,” he said. “People are going to reward good service.”
South Florida has more wealthy people “so the people are more generous,” said Sean Nathan, a waiter at Caffe Luna Rosa in Delray Beach. Tourists who visit South Florida also tend to tip well, he said.
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[Cross-posted at The Capitolist.]