D.C. voters approved Initiative 77 on Tuesday in a vote of 55 percent in favor, and 45 percent opposed. While it is extraordinary that tipped workers in the District currently receive as little as $2.77 an hour and therefore must rely on tips to sustain themselves and their families, the Initiative aims to provide a more livable wage.
On the ballot, voters were asked to approve or reject a minimum wage amendment that would gradually increase the minimum wage in the District of Columbia to $15.00 hourly by 2020. It would gradually increase the minimum wage for tipped employees so that they receive the same minimum wage directly from their employer as other employees by 2026; and beginning in 2021, it would require the minimum wage to increase yearly in proportion to increases in the Consumer Price Index.
While standing at the voting booth, many residents were still unclear about the details of Initiative 77 and wary of its impact. A measure that would require restaurants to pay its employees at the minimum wage reportedly did not receive the support of Mayor Bowser and several members of the Council including Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), David Grosso (I-At Large) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large). Election results indicate that voters not in favor of the measure lived primarily in Wards 3, 2 and 6, while the remainder of the District’s eight wards, where neighborhoods are both racially and economically diverse, voted yes.
So, what will this measure mean for workers and restaurant patrons once implemented? Will it cause workers to lose their jobs; and will customers be required to pay more for a meal. Some experts predict both may very well happen.
Nevertheless, this measure is only one attempt to make living more affordable in the DC area which ranks #4 nationally and #6 globally as the most unaffordable city to live in for renters. It is also a way to ensure workers will get paid regardless of a patron’s desire to tip or not — a practice that is waning and believed by some to be archaic.
In the end, it’s all about good food, excellent service and fairness.
We believe this will be a win for everyone, and if not, voters will need to go back to the polls and amend it.