DC Council votes to repeal Initiative 77; will take away voter-approved wage increase for tipped workers

"It is incredibly sad to see the Council representing one of the most progressive cities in the country siding with the wealthy restaurant industry over their own constituents."

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After voters approved an initiative that would raise the wages of tipped workers to eventually match the city’s minimum wage, a Democrat-dominated Washington, D.C. Council voted to repeal the initiative 8 to 5. Initiative 77 was approved in June by 55 percent of voters and would match the regular minimum wage by 2026.

While Initiative 77 was thought to target wage theft and protect “economically vulnerable workers,” the D.C. restaurant industry aggressively lobbied lawmakers to repeal the initiative, Common Dreams reported.

“It is incredibly sad to see the Council representing one of the most progressive cities in the country siding with the wealthy restaurant industry over their own constituents, particularly people of color who overwhelmingly voted for this ballot measure,” Patriotic Millionaires said in a statement. “How are they any better than Republicans in Congress who have done the same thing in the past? The people of D.C. deserve better.”

A Public Citizen report released showed over the course of the last two campaigns that D.C. councilmembers and Mayor Bowser received over $236,000 in contributions from “anti-Initiative 77 entities,” Common Dreams reported.

“This is a sad day for democracy,” Melissa Boteach, senior vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement. “Regardless of D.C. councilmembers’ personal views on Initiative 77, the citizens of the District of Columbia overwhelmingly voted in favor of the measure back in June. Repealing this measure sends a clear signal to D.C. voters, particularly low-income communities of color, that their votes don’t count.”

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