DC approves wage hike for those who receive tips

For the second time in four years, but now with changes in the legislation, the voters of Washington, DC, approved by a high margin Initiative 82 that appeared on the midterm election ballot on Tuesday the 8th, related to the increase in the minimum wage of employees receiving tips.

The measure, also known as the Measure to Increase the Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees, found the support of approximately 75 percent of voters.

Initiative 82 seeks to phase out the tip credit, which allows employers to count a portion of a worker’s tips earned each hour toward DC’s minimum wage of $16.10.

That is, DC tipped workers are currently paid a tipped minimum wage of $5.35 per hour. Workers who do not normally receive tips receive $16.10 minimum wage.

Under the initiative, the wages of tipped workers would be gradually increased to match the base wage of non-tipped workers by 2027, in addition to tips.

In 2018, DC voters also passed Initiative 77, which had a similar goal: to increase the minimum base wage for tipped workers to the standard minimum wage for a period of time.

However, a few months later, the DC Council struck it down, deeming its wording “misleading.” Ryan O’Leary, a former DC servant, then proposed Initiative 82

O’Leary said he just wanted to make sure “workers have a safety net of a base salary right before tips.” And while many servers were divided on Initiative 77, O’Leary said the measure has overwhelming labor support this time.

“COVID has really changed a lot of workers’ minds about their jobs and what they’re worth,” said O’Leary, who is hopeful the DC Council won’t repeal the measure now that voters have approved it.

To all this, the deputy mayor of planning and economic development of DC, John Falcicchio, considered likely that the legislative body will review the measure.

Proponents of Initiative 82 argue that the tip credit harms District workers who receive tips in bars, restaurants, lounges, and other establishments by providing a legal route for wage theft.

Critics said passing the measure would burden small businesses, lower workers’ take-home pay and result in higher prices.