I’m deeply disappointed that the Portland City Council passed the amendment, introduced by Councilor Jon Hinck, lowering the subminimum wage for tipped workers to $3.75.

In Portland, the median hourly pay for tipped workers is just $8.77, not nearly enough to live on. One in three tipped workers has kids. Their average age is 33. But in Maine the tipped minimum wage hasn’t gone up for seven years. These folks desperately need a raise.

The council had many options for the tipped wage.

They could have simply eliminated the subminimum wage; one in five Americans live in states where tipped workers are required to get the full minimum wage, and the restaurant industry is actually growing faster in these states.

Short of that, the council could have gone with the $7.07 tipped wage supported by President Obama and 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. They could have passed a tipped wage at 50 percent of the full minimum, as has been state law since the passage of the 2001 minimum-wage bill brokered by then-Maine Senate President Mike Michaud.

At the very least, they could have restored the purchasing power of the tipped minimum wage passed under Gov. John Baldacci in 2009 by raising it to $4.17.

By lowering the tipped wage all the way back to $3.75, the council passed the lowest inflation-adjusted tipped wage in 15 years. It was a slap in the face to all those tipped workers who have made Portland’s restaurant boom possible.

Steven Biel