Chuck & Augie’s, the university-operated restaurant run by the University of Connecticut’s Dining Services, recently made the decision to move student servers to the UConn student payroll system – disallowing them to take tips for their service.
According to a reputable inside source who wished to remain anonymous for employment reasons, the staff was informed of the wage change only two to three weeks ago, upsetting many student servers, some of whom live off campus and relied on tips to get by, the source added.
“All of them are upset,” the source said. “I think quite a few (servers) will quit over this.”
Up until this point, Chuck & Augie’s had paid servers minimum wage plus customer tips. Now servers will not receive tips, though the reason seems unclear to many. Dining Services told employees that the pay change is an attempt to keep all dining operations consistent. The source said no other operation on campus takes tips.
“The change was made because the Chuck & Augie’s student payroll is being moved to the university' s student payroll, and because (Dining Services) wanted Chuck & Augie’s to be consistent with our other areas such as catering and the dairy bar where we do not allow tipping.”
Rafay Irfan, a junior who has worked at the restaurant since his sophomore year, said he will surely feel the affects of the change.
“We are definitely getting paid less. We are losing an average of $25-$40 a week in tips which can make a huge difference for a college student like me,” Irfan said.
Irfan added that many of his colleagues were upset upon hearing the news.
“Most of the servers and I feel like we are not being compensated for the amount of work we do. We basically are servers and bussers, as we buss our own tables and close down and open the restaurant as well,” Irfan said.
Most servers considered quitting upon hearing the news, Irfan said, but the timing was not advantageous because there are barely any server positions available on or around campus, even in Storrs Center, and servers were left to keep their jobs in fear of not finding another one.
“The Dining Services administration is definitely very well aware of the lack of serving jobs around the area and are therefore pinning us against a wall since they know we have very limited options,” Irfan said. “It is already hard enough to get by and now it’s going to get even harder.”
Student server wages are expected to surpass minimum wage, but not as much as is necessary, Irfan said.
“There were rumblings that our wage was supposed to be closer to $14 an hour after taking away our tips,” Irfan said. “However, the administration decided to just shoot out a vague number of $11.60 which is not even close to being fair.”
Irfan said he and another student server sent a letter to the head of the Division of Student Affairs over a week ago, detailing the staff’s concerns in hopes of a reply. As of this article’s publication, they have received no response.
“As students of a great academic institution like UConn we are taught to stand up for what is right and what we believe in,” Irfan said. “The administration is completely ignoring us and treating students very poorly.”
“If it makes sense to someone, there must be a reasonable explanation,” the source said. “We’re just not really informed about why.”