The tipping point

Jul 16, 2014 at 5:00 am

Legislation to increase the minimum wage in Louisville is about to take off full-steam ahead in the next several weeks. One of the toughest battles in this #raisethewage campaign will be the effort to include tipped employees (namely restaurant servers) in a wage increase.

As I’ve described in this column before, the tipped minimum wage has been stuck at $2.13 an hour since 1991. Each time the regular minimum wage has gone up, tipped workers have been sold out. As the minimum wage legislative fight moves forward in Louisville, we have the opportunity to include raising the tipped minimum wage to at least $3 or $3.50 an hour. This is why I need your help.

The Community Affairs Committee of the Metro Council has agreed to allow four speaking slots at their next meeting for folks to talk about the issue of why Louisville needs to include tipped workers in the legislation. Flaco Aleman of Kentucky Jobs with Justice has been instrumental in moving these discussions forward with an insistence that tipped employees not be left out of the discussion. The team of servers and restaurant workers who have been working with KJWJ on this issue have committed to the Community Affairs Committee that we can turn out 25 tipped employees to sit in the audience in a showing of solidarity on this issue.

Ideally, legislators would support this effort because it is the right thing to do, but many of the more moderate or right-leaning council members need to see a demonstration of public support and people power on this issue before they will vote to support it. This hearing is being chaired by Councilwoman Attica Scott, who has been our strongest advocate in City Hall. Aside from committee members, those Metro Council folks who are still on the fence about whether or not to include tipped workers will either be present at this hearing or watching it on TV. We will be meeting with the Community Affairs Committee on Wednesday, July 16, at 1:30 p.m., the day this edition of LEO Weekly comes out.

If you’re an early riser who reads this before 1:30, please join us at the Metro Council Chambers at City Hall, 601 W. Jefferson St. If you don’t make it to this meeting, please email or call your council representative and tell her or him that you support a raise to the minimum wage that includes tipped employees. You can visit for an easy-to-navigate website that provides a quick link for emailing any individual legislator or all of them at once.

The fate of the tipped minimum wage increase in Louisville is literally hanging on by a thread, and the help of you wonderful LEO readers can secure it. Remember: Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ’cause the power of the people don’t stop!

In pop culture news, last week actress and transgender rights advocate Laverne Cox was announced as an Emmy nominee for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Sophia Burset in Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.” This makes Cox the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy Award. History, dahling!

I have been a Laverne Cox fan since she first appeared on one of Diddy’s MTV reality shows many years ago. If nothing else, Cox has almost single-handedly increased our nation’s recent popular dialogue about trans people and trans issues. I look forward to her upcoming MTV and Logo documentary “Trans Teen,” which airs on both networks simultaneously this fall and will spotlight the lives of trans young people ages 14 to 24. Cox is a phenomenal equal rights activist, feminist and role model for people of all genders and races.

It was widely reported last week that the new Kentucky Kingdom amusement park ejected Jesse Colter for wearing a red Speedo in the water park. According to Colter, an officer with the Louisville Metro Police Department also called him “queer” and threatened to lock him up for the contested swimwear. This happened around the same time the park also allegedly told a nursing mother that she’d have to breastfeed her baby in a bathroom. Kentucky Kingdom President Ed Hart now says the amusement park has “absolutely no restrictions” on breastfeeding, although an initial statement by the park said that nursing mothers must use “discretion,” whatever that means.

’Til next time, which will also be my birthday!