Washington, D.C. residents voted Tuesday to raise the district’s minimum wage to $15 an hour across all businesses by 2026, including formerly tipped-wage employees such as restaurant servers, The New York Times reports.
The vote was called around 9:30 EST with 90 percent of the vote tallied. Initiative 77, as the minimum wage proposal was called, passed by a comfortable margin of 55.1 percent to 44.9 percent, according to TheNYT.
Initiative 77 caused an uproar in the DC restaurant industry. Businesses and employers campaigned hard against the bill saying the wage hike would cost jobs and likely put many restaurants out of business. (RELATED: DC Restaurant Industry Rallies Against Vote To Raise Minimum Wage)
“Using politics to push unrealistic but ‘fair’ legislation like this is antithetical to the economic principles that have created the booming Washington D.C. restaurant industry — an industry that supplies 68,900 jobs,” a 17-year veteran of D.C.’s restaurant industry, Dane Nakamura, told The Daily Caller News Foundation the day before the vote. “Words like compassion and fair mean nothing when you degrade those jobs because you think you can make reality disappear with a vote.”
Tipped employees also demonstrated against the bill. They worried the new law would actually cut their pay by costing them tips and that restaurants hiking prices to cover the cost of labor would drive away customers. Customers already paying higher prices could feel less inclined to tip servers making minimum wage.
The government-funded Restaurant Opportunity Center pushed the initiative. The group ran its “One Fair Wage” campaign advocating for the stability and fairness of a set, hourly wage over the unpredictability of a tipped wage. The tipped wage is also inherently discriminatory against minorities and makes servers vulnerable to harassment, the center claimed, according to the Washingtonian.
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