DC $15 Vote Shows Unstoppable Momentum, But Leaves Tipped Workers Behind

Today, the District of Columbia City Council voted unanimously to raise the District’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020 – joining California, New York, Seattle and other states and cities that have approved $15 wage floors. The City Council rejected proposals to phase out the District’s subminimum wage for tipped workers, instead raising it only modestly to $5 per hour form its current rate of $2.77. Both rates would be increased in future years to reflect the cost of living.

Following is a statement from Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project:

“The D.C. Council vote shows the unstoppable momentum of the $15 minimum wage and will improve the lives of thousands of workers. But the Council’s refusal to meaningfully raise the tipped wage leaves behind 29,000 restaurant, nail salon, car wash and other tipped workers. With San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle having raised the tipped wage to $15, and New York raising it to $10, it is disappointing that city leadership as progressive and diverse as D.C.’s would not do more.

“Close to 70 percent of tipped employees in D.C. are people of color, and data shows these workers experience poverty at nearly twice the rate of the overall workforce. Women will also be disproportionately affected, as female tipped workers are twice as likely to live in poverty as men in tipped occupations, and they are nearly three times more likely to live in poverty than the overall workforce. And disparities in the restaurant sector are likely to widen: more than one in four female servers and bartenders live in poverty, compared to a little more than one in ten of their male counterparts.”

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