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Hatin’ On The Waitstaff, Tom Emmer Edition

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 6, 2010

I see that Tom Emmer, the RPM’s choice for Minnesota’s next governor, has decided to use waitresses for punching bags — politically, at least (h/t to Bluestem Prairie):

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Tom Emmer said the state could gain jobs if employers could a pay a lower hourly wage to employees who earn a lot of money from tips.

He stopped by the Eagle Street Grille in St. Paul Monday morning, saying government needs to listen to businesses about reducing regulatory burdens and adding jobs.

“With the tips that they get to take home, they are some people earning over $100,000 a year. More than the very people providing the jobs and investing not only their life savings but their families’ future,” Emmer said.

Ooooh! Lemme cue up my Dr. Evil voice: One Hundred THOUSAND Dollars! Too bad the Eagle’s own Republican-friendly management shot this sucker down:

Emmer said some well-tipped Eagle Street Grille employees are among those making more than $100,000 a year. But one of the grille’s owners said only a “couple” of his 45 or so servers make that much in a good year.

And in the backwash of the Bush years, I reckon there haven’t been many good years lately for that tavern, Hummer-driving owner aside. (Oh, by the way, the tavern wouldn’t exist if not for the millions of taxpayer subsidies that went into the nearby Xcel Center, site of the Minnesota Wild’s home games and other sporting events. But I digress.) Setting aside guesstimates for reality, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (again h/t to BSP) states that the mean annual wages for waiters and waitresses in Minnesota is $22,730. That’s considerably less than Emmer’s pulled-out-his-butt numbers for these folks.

I’m trying to decide if Emmer’s just doing a riff on the old fake-libertarian War on the Waitstaff that’s currently popular among Galt-worshiping Republicans, or if he’s cuddling up to RPM Chair and would-be taco tycoon Tony Sutton by working to lower his operating expenses?

UPDATE: Here’s some more on the ironic douchery of the Republican owners of the Eagle Street Grille, courtesy of MNObserver in the comments to this Cucking Stool post:

Let’s not overlook the setting for Candidate Emmer’s comments – the Eagle Street Grille. Five years ago, the Eagle Street Grille’s owners testified tearfully at the Saint Paul City Council hearing on the proposed smoking ban that fully half of his customers were smokers and that the ban would most certainly kill his business.

His animosity toward Council Member Dave Thune, who had proposed the ban, went so far that the owner added a special menu item:”The Thune: All the leftover scraps from the Grille thrown on a bun $0.00
(We wont actually serve it to you because who wants a mouth full of crap)”

But now, five years after the ban, his servers make $100k a year? How fortunate for all that the Grille is located just across the street from the largest taxpayer-funded entertainment venue in Saint Paul.

And of course, who pushed the hardest for the Xcel Center, the thing that made the Eagle Street Grille possible in the first place? Why, that Dave Thune guy, the one the owners trash on their menu.

If creeps like this will call out Emmer for his flim-flammery, what does that say about Tom Emmer?

UPDATE #2: It gets better — the Strib’s Jon Tevlin, eager to get one of the vaunted $100K server jobs, has a Kodak Moment with Kevin Geisen, one of the co-owners of the Eagle Street Grille:

But my waiter, who turned out to be co-owner Kevin Geisen, wouldn’t even give me an application. He had just fielded a call from an angry woman.

“She called me the effenheimer and said we had disgraced St. Paul by lying about how much our servers make,” said Geisen. “She said she’d never come back again.”

The caller probably did the same spit-take I did when I read Emmer’s quote.

Let’s see, according to state data, the median wage for a waiter or waitress is $9.36 per hour. If they work 40 hours a week, with no vacations, that comes to $19,468 per year, including tips. So, a super server would need to make $80,000 more in tips to make up the difference. That comes to $1,538 for a five-day week, or $307 a day in tips, every day. For a year.

See, Joe Kasel, the other co-owner, was the guy quoted by NPR as saying that “a couple” of his servers made $100,000, but only in a “good year”. Turns out that this is a wee exaggeration — and pissed off the servers:

At first, Kasel said Emmer’s quote was “manipulated” by the media, then changed that to “misquoted.”

“He didn’t say anything wrong,” said Kasel.

(Star Tribune reporter Jackie Crosby stands by the quote, which was recorded.)

“I don’t want people thinking we have people making $100,000 a year here, because we don’t,” said Kasel, who had to call his 29 employees that morning to prevent a mutiny. “No way, shape or form did I [tell Emmer] anyone made $100,000.”


3 Responses to “Hatin’ On The Waitstaff, Tom Emmer Edition”

  1. Charles II said

    I thought this is what Republicans called “the politics of envy” and “class warfare”.

    Or what the rest of us call the Lucky Duck syndrome.

  2. David W. said

    Late comment, but my wife and I heard Emmer’s comment on MPR while on the road and being a former waitress my wife was incredulous. If Emmer keeps this up, the DFL just might finally win a governor’s race as the campaign commercial using this practically writes itself. No one seriously believes waitresses are getting rich, even most rank-and-file Republicans.

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