In the Sept. 7 article “Portland City Council will try again to set higher minimum wage citywide,” I was disappointed to see the realities of living off tips so casually misrepresented.

The reporter’s statement that “it’s not unusual for servers to earn more than $20 or $30 an hour, almost all of it from tips” is both factually incorrect – according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data for the Portland metro area, servers make a median hourly income of $8.77, with the 90th percentile of earners bringing in $14.15 an hour (an annual income of just about $29,000) – and damaging to winning a much needed raise for the people whose labor is fundamental to Portland’s unique and rapidly expanding restaurant industry boasted about in the piece.

As an organizer, I speak to restaurant workers daily about their experiences. The overwhelming consensus is that earning more than $20 an hour is definitely unusual.

With a subminimum wage stuck at $3.75 an hour, Maine’s tipped workers live in poverty at three times the rate of the rest of Maine’s workforce. This means that after working long days serving food to others, restaurant workers often come home unable to do the same for their own families.

A fair and stable wage paid directly by the employer, regardless of occupation, is the only way to combat these oppressive poverty rates and lift up everyone in the industry. Seven states, including all those on the West Coast, have already eliminated the two-tiered wage system. Each has a booming restaurant industry (Seattle just posted historic job gains after the city’s $15 minimum wage was implemented), and poverty rates among tipped workers are much lower.

Misinformation has real impacts for Maine’s working families who deserve a raise. I know I’m among many who expect better of the Portland Press Herald.

Danielle Donnelly