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Senators protest tips rule, say it would allow “stealing”

Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 1:33 PM

A full tips jar at Sammy J’s in Millersport, Ohio. Columbus Dispatch photo by Fred Squillante
A full tips jar at Sammy J’s in Millersport, Ohio. Columbus Dispatch photo by Fred Squillante

There’s a growing outcry against a proposed U.S. Labor Department rule change that would alter how much control employers have over tips.

Under the proposed change, employers could keep employee tips as long as all employees are paid at least the federal minimum wage.

That’s a change from a rule set up in 2011 that said restaurant owners can require tipped employees to participate in tip pools only if the pool money is shared among other traditionally tipped workers—such as servers, bussers and bartenders. Those employees are considered customer-facing, “front of house” staff.

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Sen. Sherrod Brown said he and 23 other senators have sent a letter to the Labor Department protesting the proposed change, saying it would that would “take money out of the pockets of low-wage workers.”

The senators also accuse the Labor Department of sitting on an analysis they say shows that the proposed rule “would result in employers stealing potentially billions of dollars from their workers.”

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“DOL is forcing through a regulation that would take money out of the pockets of low-wage workers and, even worse, it covered up the potentially catastrophic impacts from workers and advocates,” said the letter signed by Brown and the other senators, all Democrats.

The senators announced the letter Thursday.

This week, the Labor Department inspector general said the rulemaking process for the change would be investigated.

Today, Ohio employers can pay workers just $4.15 an hour if they earn tips, but employees are permitted to keep all of the tips they earn. Most business owners in Ohio must now pay non-tipped workers at least $8.30 an hour, which is the state’s minimum wage.

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But under the proposed new federal rule, owners could cut workers’ base pay to as low as the $7.25 — that’s the federal minimum wage — take all tips and distribute them to non-tipped workers up to $8.30 an hour.

The employers can keep anything above that, according to Policy Matters Ohio, a left-leaning think tank.

“The proposal contains no requirement that business owners who confiscate tips distribute them among workers at all,” Policy Matters Ohio said in a recent statement. “As long as they pay the state minimum wage, they are free to pocket them under the proposal.”

According to the Economic Policy Institute, employers could control up to $5.8 billion in tips under the rule change.

Supporters say the rule is a way to share tips with anyone actively involved in customer service. Waiters and waitresses could share tips with, for example, cooks and dishwashers who don’t normally work in customer-facing positions, addressing a disparity in income between front-of-house and back-of-house workers.

The National Restaurant Association has sued to challenge the 2011 rule.

“The Department of Labor has completely overstepped its regulatory authority and is unfairly discriminating against those restaurant employees who work in the back of the house,” Angelo Amador, the NRA’s senior vice president, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “The law here is clear: Employees who earn above minimum wage should be able to share their tips with fellow employees, no matter where they work. The Department of Labor cannot continue to trample on the rights of restaurant workers.”

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Chipotle testing new ‘trendy’ menu option

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 6:51 AM

Chipotle - 5 Fast Facts

Chipotle Mexican Grill is trying out a new menu option at its test kitchen in New York City.

The restaurant chain added quinoa to its menu at the test kitchen. Chipotle is known for its simple assembly-line food concept, but has been trying to innovate in the past year. The chain debuted its queso cheese dip across restaurants in September.

» RESTAURANT NEWS: Chipotle to start offering queso dip at all restaurants

“The quinoa is made with red and gold quinoa tossed with a little citrus juice, cumin and freshly chopped cilantro,” a Chipotle representative told Business Insider. “We are recommending that added to a salad, or in place of rice in another entrée.”

Quinoa is a fiber-rich grain. A cup of cooked quinoa is also packed with protein and iron.

The new menu item comes just after Chipotle named a new chief officer. Chipotle named Taco Bell’s Brian Niccol as its next leader, replacing Steve Ells, who built the fast-casual food chain. Niccol is a 1996 graduate of Miami University, just an hour from Dayton.


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Bon-Ton going-out-of-business sales start at stores this week

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 7:16 AM

Elder-Beerman warehouse in Fairborn could close, company says

Bon-Ton Stores Inc., parent company of Elder-Beerman, is starting going-out-of-business sales at some of its stores this week.

The retailer said that store closing sales are underway at 42 select locations. The closings are part of the company’s previously announced “store rationalization” program. The company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Click here for the full list of store closures

The in-store sales will take place at Bon-Ton branded stores including Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s, and Younkers. More store locations are expected to close in addition to the 42 locations previously announced.

» UNMATCHED COVERAGE: Bon-Ton files bankruptcy: What’s really going on?

Only one store in Ohio will shut down. Elder-Beerman at the Northtowne Mall in Defiance was named as one of the impacted stores. No Elder-Beerman stores in the Dayton region are impacted by this round of store closures. The stores are expected to close in early 2018.

Bon-Ton has a major presence in the Dayton region. Along with its distribution center in Fairborn, there are Elder-Beerman stores across the region in Dayton, Huber Heights, Kettering, Piqua and Beavercreek. Bon-Ton closed a store location at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville, Ohio in late March.

» TRENDING BUSINESS NEWS: Will more stores close in 2018? No comeback for traditional retailers

Bon-Ton could also reduce the number of distribution centers from three to two, shutting down its facility in Fairborn.

The Elder-Beerman store in Towne Mall Galleria in Middletown, which is in Warren County, also closed earlier this year. The closing impacted 65 employees.


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Meet Elvia Price, the American Red Cross leader for this region

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 8:19 AM

Elvia Price
Elvia Price

Elvia Price has been selected to serve as the interim CEO of the American Red Cross, Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region upon Patricia (Trish) Smitson’s retirement.

Price is a 19-year veteran of the Red Cross, serving many pivotal roles throughout her career. She’s supervised Disaster Services, International Services, Service to Armed Forces and the Red Cross staff dedicated to the Cincinnati United Way campaign.

As Chief Program Services Officer, Price is responsible for all 15 United Way relationships in the GCDR Region, including the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, which provides over $4.5 million to the Cincinnati Red Cross each year. She’s also overseen several prominent public relations events that showcase Red Cross services, including the successful Mega Blitz smoke alarm installation rally that served as a model for the national Sound the Alarm initiative. In addition, she is the primary staff support for Cincinnati’s long-standing Diversity and Inclusion Committee which is a national model for other Red Cross chapters.

Later this month, Price will travel to Washington D.C. to receive the eminent national award for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion, which is presented annually to an American Red Cross employee, or volunteer who promotes diversity and inclusion within the organization and the community.

Other Dayton area business people in the news:

Lissa Brown joined the Dayton Rotary Club on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. Brown is the Director of Regional Services for Girl Scouts of Western Ohio and a resident of Tipp City.

Lissa Brown, Dayton Rotary Club

Melissa McGhee joined the Dayton Rotary Club on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. McGhee is the President of Weisenborn Insurance Services and a resident of Troy.

Melissa McGhee, Dayton Rotary Club

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Ohio adults smoking more weed while teen marijuana use remains low

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 3:00 PM


Wacky tobaccy. Weed. Dank. Hippie lettuce — call it what you want. Ohio adults are smoking more of it.

Adult marijuana use in Ohio increased to what is likely a record level from 2015 to 2016, according to a new federal report. The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 1.2 million Ohioans, ages 18 and older, reported using cannabis at least once in the previous 12 months in a survey covering 2015 and 2016.

» TRENDING COVERAGE: Medical marijuana dispensaries are more like bars than pharmacies

Teen marijuana use remains low, less than half the level of the 1970s and 1980s, however it has increased in recent years. An estimated 109,000 Ohio youths, ages 12 to 17, smoked marijuana at least once the previous year, up almost 5 percent from a year earlier.

An estimated 24 millions Americans, ages 12 or older, used marijuana in 2016, according to the survey. About one in five young adults, ages 18 to 25, used marijuana nationwide in 2016. That’s more than 20 percent of young adults, or 7.2 million.


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