When Woody Harrelson's character got hired as a bartender on Cheers, he was so excited, he insisted on working for no more than the minimum wage. "I'd work like a slave," he said, "and, of course, I'd wash your car."
Most bar and restaurant workers would prefer to bring home a little more cash. They may be in luck.
As part of his plan to raise the minimum wage, President Obama has called for substantially increasing the base wage paid to tipped workers for the first time in decades.
"It's easy to forget the overwhelming majority of tipped employees are low-income workers," says Amy Traub, senior policy analyst at Demos, a liberal research and advocacy group. [...]
But even if wages do go up, labor proponent Traub argues that employers won't pass on all the costs to their customers.
"Studies have found that when you pay higher wages, employees are more productive and turnover drops," she says, "so you have people who are more experienced and can do a better job."