NWLC Reacts to DC Council Move to Repeal One Fair Wage for the District
(Washington, D.C.) Today, 8 of the 13 members of the DC Council voted to repeal Initiative 77, a ballot measure decisively approved by DC voters in June. Initiative 77 would have brought One Fair Wage to the District by gradually raising the minimum wage that employers are required to pay their tipped employees from $3.89 to $15 an hour by 2025; beginning in 2026, the same minimum wage would have applied to tipped and non-tipped workers alike.
The national and local restaurant industry led a potent misinformation campaign directed to voters, Councilmembers, and tipped workers themselves. But the doomsday scenarios promised by initiative opponents—of a District with scarce restaurants and paltry tips—run counter to all evidence from the jurisdictions that already have One Fair Wage, where tipped workers have higher wages and lower poverty rates compared to their peers in DC and restaurants still thrive. And most DC voters were not fooled; in Wards 7 and 8, Initiative 77 passed with more than 60 percent of the vote, and it garnered a majority in every ward but Ward 3 (where it failed by a very slim margin).
The following is a statement by Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center:
“The DC Council should be ashamed. Just a few months ago, DC voters resoundingly called for One Fair Wage. The Council—which rightly and vocally opposes the lack of voice that their constituents have in the halls of Congress—should, at a minimum, respect the votes of the more than 47,000 District residents who supported Initiative 77. Instead, a majority of its Members have signaled their willingness to silence the majority of voters in every ward but the wealthiest and whitest; to silence the women and men who have tolerated the worst from their customers and their bosses, just to make a living; and to pretend that sexual harassment, wage theft, and poverty don’t happen to tipped workers here, when both hard data and working people tell us just the opposite. Today’s vote to overturn Initiative 77 is a vote to ignore the will of the people in favor of the power of the restaurant industry and deny One Fair Wage to nearly 30,000 workers across the District.”