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February 8, 2024

Poll: 58% of likely voters support boosting wages for tipped workers

Photo | WBJ File Server Patrick Mahoney takes an order at Worcester eatery deadhorse hill.

Backers of a possible ballot question to gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers say likely voters in Massachusetts support their effort.

At a campaign event hosted by the Massachusetts One Fair Wage Campaign in Boston on Wednesday, polling conducted by Lake Research Partners was shared showing 58 percent support for the proposal, with 24 percent against and 18 percent not sure.

The measure, which is pending before the Special Joint Committee on Initiative Petitions as H 4254, would incrementally lift the minimum wage for tipped workers to come into line with the full minimum wage, with tips on top, by 2029.

Massachusetts has a minimum wage of $15 per hour, with a minimum wage for tipped service employees of $6.75 per hour so long as gratuities bring their total pay up to $15 per hour. Employers are responsible for covering any difference.

"Tipped wages is a real sticky issue," House Speaker Ron Mariano said in January. "It's a difficult issue for both sides. You can be sympathetic to the waiters who are making their living on tips, but you could also be sympathetic to the business owners who are trying to make a profit. If you start adding 15 to 20 percent onto the price of a meal, it gets to the point where people stop going."

The "One Fair Wage" campaign amassed more than 108,000 signatures as part of their effort to comply with the requirements to keep initiative petitions on the path toward the 2024 ballot. 

A polling memo said support for the question "does not budge" after voters hear balanced arguments from both sides including "including an opposition argument claiming that raising the tipped minimum wage will cause higher prices and layoffs, hurting consumers and small businesses."

Former Congressman Joe Kennedy III was scheduled to address the campaign gathering at Democracy Brewing.

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