- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York plans to hold public hearings on regulations governing service workers who get tips and have base pay lower than the state’s hourly minimum wage.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday directed labor officials to convene a Wage Board to recommend changes in light of statutory increases in the minimum pay for other workers to $8 this year, $8.75 next year and $9 in 2015.

Tipped workers are paid a required base rate, currently $5 an hour for food service, assuming tips equal at least $3 an hour. The rate for others, such as hotel workers, is currently $5.65 an hour.

“Business has changed since the last minimum wage increase,” Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera said. “I will task these individuals with determining if the base pay for tipped food service workers should be amended and, if so, by how much.”

The board includes Heather Briccetti of the state Business Council, Peter Ward of the Hotel Trades Council and Timothy Grippen, retired Broome County executive. After board recommendations, Rivera is expected to issue a final decision by February.

The National Employment Law Project said the board could significantly boost pay for an estimated 229,000 low-paid tip workers in New York, about 70 percent of whom are women. The group said several states currently require employers pay the full minimum wage directly to tipped workers, who get tips in addition. Wages are already $9 or more in California, Washington and Oregon, and will go over $9 in Minnesota, Hawaii and Alaska.

Hunger Action Network of New York State, which advocates a $15 hourly minimum, said the current subminimum pay rate is a major factor in poverty among women.

The schedule for hearings was not immediately announced Thursday.

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