The D.C. Council voted 8 to 5 on Tuesday to give final approval for a bill to repeal Initiative 77, a ballot measure passed by city voters in June that called for eliminating the city’s longstanding tipped wage system.
The initiative, which many LGBT tipped workers at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs opposed, called for gradually increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers from the current $3.89 per hour to the full minimum wage of non-tipped employees, which is currently $13.25 per and which will rise to $15 per hour in 2020. Initiative 77 would have phased in the $15 per hour pay for tipped workers by 2026.
Opponents of the initiative argued that the current law requires employers to pay tipped workers the difference if their combined earnings through their lower minimum wage and tips fall short of the full minimum wage. LGBT tipped workers at several of the city’s gay and straight bars and restaurants have said their combined earnings from tips and the lower minimum wage far exceeds the full minimum wage and ending the tipped wage system would jeopardize their earnings by forcing restaurants and bars to raise prices or cut back on staff to make up for the higher labor costs the initiative would bring about.
Supporters argued that serious problems predicted by opponents have not occurred in the several states, including California, that have ended the tip wage system.
Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she would sign the Council’s bill repealing Initiative 77. Following Bowser’s signature the bill will be sent to Capitol Hill for a required 30 legislative day congressional review before it becomes law.