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Business Owners Want A Say In Minimum Wage Talks

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​Discussions about minimum wage are back on the table as Nevada nears the 2017 legislative session.

Minimum wage in Nevada is $7.25 if the employer provides insurance, and $8.25 an hour if they do not. ​​A  2014 survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says 20,000 Nevadans earn minimum wage or less.

Recently, activists in Las Vegas have called for increasing the minimum wage to $15, but business chambers oppose the effort, saying it will hurt job growth and job creation.

Bob Ansara is the owner of Ricardo’s, an upscale Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas​ that employs 68 people.​

He’s a member of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce​, and formerly served on the boards of the chamber and the Nevada Restaurant Association.

 

Ansara told KNPR's State of Nevada ​that he would like to see the minimum wage remain at its current level for workers who earn tips. 

 

"Nevada is a slightly special circumstance when compared to the rest of the nation in that we are one of the few states that does not enjoy a tip credit," he said.

 

The Internal Revenue Service declares that all tips are income on which employers and employees must both pay taxes. But the state of Nevada does not view tips as income and does not factor tips into the minimum wage equation.
 

"A waiter in our restaurant who declares $20 an hour in tips and makes $8.25 in wage, I'm paying taxes on $28.25 an hour," Ansara said.

 

He said that no one on his staff earns minimum wage without tips, however, he recognizes the hardships for people who do.

 

"Logically, if someone is attempting to support a family at minimum wage it's almost impossible without having two jobs or two wage earners in the family," he said.

While he doesn't support doubling wages, he says the industry could accept gradual, lesser raises, though it would still impact his business.

 

"A minimum wage increase in a business that has multi-tier wage levels means an increase to everybody," he said.

 

He gives the example of a skilled cook who makes $14 per hour. If a busser's wages are suddenly raised to $13, the employer must also give the cook a raise to maintain a differential.

 

"To say to me, my server who's making $30 an hour deserves a $7 an hour raise, it's unreal," Ansara said. "It's the greatest nightmare that a person in my position can experience. Now, to another type of business, that doesn't have a lot of tip earners, it has a different reality for them."

 

 

Bob Ansara, owner, Ricardo's 

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.