Working Washington has heard a lot of complaints (and received a lot of reports) about businesses which have recently added small 1%—5% “minimum wage” surcharges to their bills in what seems to be an attempt to send a political message about their opposition to raising the wage.
A list of companies found to be adding these surcharges can be found at workingwa.org. We encourage you to let these companies know what you think about this practice (though of course you should always be respectful to your server).
We can stop this trend and eliminate minimum wage surcharges. Already, several prominent companies that instituted these kinds of charges have reversed themselves after hearing from customers. We hope to see more of the same. And if any business drops their charge, we’ll be glad to share the news and promptly take them off the list.
What’s the issue with a minimum wage surcharge?
Itemized surcharges attributed to the cost of the minimum wage are objectionable because paying the minimum wage is a basic cost of doing business, not an extra add-on to be counted separately. If there’s no line item for the electrical bill, no napkin-laundering charge called out, and no special fee levied because a few employees had to work overtime last pay period, then there’s no good reason to tack on an extra 2% and attribute it to the minimum wage.
If you run a business, your prices reflect your total costs, of course — from the cost of rent to the cost of a cleaning service and everything in between — but each cost isn’t itemized on the receipt. So when a business adds a surcharge and attributes it to the minimum wage, they’re making a political statement that seems to be about publicly begrudging having to pay a higher wage. And it’s probably no coincidence that some of the businesses adding these new fees have also fought against higher labor standards.
Higher wages are incredibly popular in our state and across the country, and we believe these tacked-on fees can’t stand up to public attention. We’ve already seen several prominent companies reverse themselves on these charges when their customers are heard from. And we hope to see more of the samewith your help.
To sign our letter opposing minimum wage surcharges and to learn about local organizing efforts around this issue, visit workingwa.org.