Eric Harris Bernstein

Eric Harris Bernstein is a Bay Area bartender and a graduate student at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Previously, he worked as a program manager for the Roosevelt Institute.

Recent Articles

Why Shouldn’t Bartenders Be Rich?

One Oakland bartender shows how eliminating the sub-minimum wage would benefit high-end, as well as low-end, tipped workers.

This week, Washington, D.C.’s city council will vote on whether to repeal Initiative 77, which would phase out the sub-minimum wage for D.C.'s tipped workers over the next seven years. In defending the initiative, the pro-77 coalition has looked primarily to D.C.’s low-income tipped workers. They have stated (correctly) that one in seven D.C. tipped workers live in poverty; they have noted (smartly) that the typical D.C. tipped worker makes one-third what the typical non-tipped worker makes; and they have highlighted (importantly) the stories of non-restaurant tipped workers like my friend Dia King , who straddles the poverty line as a valet attendant. And indeed, the needs of low-income tipped workers are the most compelling reason to end the tipped minimum wage. But Initiative 77 will improve the earnings of D.C.’s most successful restaurant workers as well, challenging the prevailing notion that service work is necessarily low-wage—and we should welcome that...