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Minimum Wage Hike Opponents Push for Full Repeal

A new bill would undo the pay change for D.C. restaurant workers passed in June

A restaurant worker collecting a tip.
Shutterstock/Sean Locke Photography

As promised, seven D.C. city council members have co-sponsored a bill that would repeal the minimum wage hike for tipped workers that District voters narrowly approved last month.

The majority block, which includes chair Phil Mendelson, introduced the “Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act of 2018” on July 10, dropping the bill before a scheduled summer recess.

Proponents of the publicly-endorsed referendum urged lawmakers not to interfere with Initiative 77 — ”It would be deeply undemocratic for Council to overturn the will of the people,” Initiative 77 backer One Fair Wage said in a statement — and appear to have picked up a new ally in the legislative fight: councilmember Brianne Nadeau. While she did not vote for the measure on June 19, Nadeau said in a statement that she is not “comfortable with” the current repeal effort.

“However, I plan to remain an active participant in the discussion around this issue,” she said.

The proposed legislation doesn’t bother tinkering with future pay rates, preferring to proceed as if Initiative 77 never happened. Under current law, workers eligible to collect tips would have their hourly pay rise from $3.33 plus tips to $15 between now and 2025; at that point, the parallel tip-based pay scale would disappear and everyone would earn $15 an hour.

The amended bill will have to go before the full council when the group reconvenes this fall. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who campaigned against Initiative 77, would likely sign the repeal bill.

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