Portland servers and restaurant owners are fighting a proposal to eliminate the tip credit in the city.
In this June 15, 2020, file photo, customers dine on the sidewalk outside Portland Pie in Brunswick. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Restaurant owners and workers have launched a campaign against a Portland ballot question that seeks to eliminate the tip credit in favor of an $18 minimum wage.

Under the tip credit, employers pay restaurant workers half the minimum wage and make up the difference if tips don’t make up the full amount.

If the ballot measure is approved, the tip credit would be fully eliminated in 2025 and restaurant owners in Portland would pay employees the full minimum wage.

Gregory Dugal of Hospitality Maine, which is a part of Restaurant Industry United, said that would actually harm workers.

“Eliminating the tip credit and paying full minimum wage, which would of course under this scenario be $18, would be that people would just not tip as greatly any more,” Dugal said.

The tip credit was briefly eliminated in Maine after a statewide referendum in 2016. Lawmakers reinstated it after restaurant workers lobbied to bring it back.

The Portland proposal was spearheaded by the Democratic Socialists of America.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.