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Published on June 20, 2024
Arizona and Massachusetts Face Off in Tipped Workers Wage Debate as Ballot Measures EmergeSource: Unsplash/ Jessie McCall

In the ongoing national dialogue about fair wages, states like Arizona and Massachusetts are stepping directly into the fray with contrasting ballot measures that could significantly reshape the pay structures for tipped workers. As reported by FOX 10 Phoenix, Arizona has two initiatives heading to the November ballot. One, possibly bolstering minimum wages for all to $18 in a phased manner, and the other allowing employers to pay servers 25% below the said wage, given they compensate on slower business days.

According to MassLive, Massachusetts has taken a divergent path. The state's Supreme Judicial Court recently upheld a ballot question that would phase out separate wages for tipped employees by 2029, framing the debate as one not only of economic fairness but racial justice, noting the demographic breakdown of the restaurant workforce in their state.

"Your pay shouldn’t be determined by somebody’s personal feelings toward you based on the service that you provided," said Mariah Ross of One Fair Wage, who is advocating for the $18 minimum wage in Arizona, told FOX 10 Phoenix. Meanwhile, Stephanie Vasquez, CEO of Fair Trade Coffee, insists wages can't be simplified into a one-size-fits-all solution, given the complexity of business situations.

Massachusetts looks toward sharing the proverbial pie a bit more evenly, allowing for tip-sharing between the front and back of the house once wage parity is achieved. In an echo of a sentiment shared from the heart of another industry dynamic, "We are excited to finish the final stages of signature gathering and certification and launch our statewide campaign to win a full minimum wage with tips on top for hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts service workers," Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, said in a statement obtained by MassLive.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association, however, expresses a starkly different concern. “tipped employees continue to be overwhelmingly opposed to this ballot question brought from activists in California.” said Stephen Clark, the association's president and CEO, with Thursday’s decision purportedly exacerbating the fears of servers and bartenders over their income.