Press Release: 32BJ SIEU Endorses One Fair Wage Campaign in D.C. to Support Tipped Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 26, 2022
CONTACT: Julie Karant, 646-584-9001,

Nation’s Largest Property Service Workers Union Endorses One Fair Wage Campaign in D.C. to Support Tipped Workers

Washington, D.C. – The following statement is attributable to Jaime Contreras, Executive Vice President of 32BJ SEIU, which represents over 175,000 members in 11 states, including over 20,000 in the D.C. area and Baltimore, MD, as the largest property service workers union in the country:

“32BJ’s property service workers, who helped lead the Fight for $15 campaign across the nation, proudly endorse the One Fair Wage campaign to ensure that D.C. restaurant workers aren’t forced to rely on tips to make up the difference for unlivable poverty wages. These unsustainable conditions drove thousands of working men and women out of the industry, after many got sick and even died keeping our economy alive during the pandemic. They were confronted with a perfect storm of few if any customers to provide tips, many who may not even know how little tipped workers earn during a time of economic uncertainty.
“32BJ members know firsthand that tipped workers can’t support themselves much less a family. Before enactment of a tipped minimum wage at National and Dulles Airports, many of 32BJ’s tipped wheelchair agents there experienced homelessness, had to skip meals and slept in the airport because they couldn’t afford rent or transportation. Workers even reported being discharged for mere allegations of soliciting tips, a practice that is forbidden for wheelchair agents.

“While every other contractor pays wheelchair agents the airport’s tipped minimum wage – the Huntleigh Corporation is the sole outlier not paying this wage. As a consequence, Huntleigh relies on disabled passenger tips to make up the difference in wages they aren’t paying workers.

“As 32BJ continues to fight to ensure the tipped minimum wage is paid to 350 Huntleigh workers at DCA and Dulles, we support the fight for tipped workers in the District.”

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Press Release: District of Columbia Tipped Workers Close in on Hike in Base Pay

DATE: January 21, 2022

PRESS CONTACT: Nikolas Schiller, 202-643-3878,
Adam Eidinger, 202-744-2671,

District of Columbia Tipped Workers Close in on Hike in Base Pay

Astonishing Voter Response to Signature Drive Boosts Initiative 82 Toward Success
DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry Vows to Beat Feb. 22 Deadline

WASHINGTON, DC – Backers of a District of Columbia ballot initiative, which would gradually increase the base wage for tipped workers and make it the same as non-tipped workers by 2027, announced it has begun the final push to collect enough signatures to get Initiative 82 on the primary ballot with at least 23,000 valid signatures collected of the estimated 23,000 to 26,000 needed.

“Initiative 82 gives the D.C. community a powerful tool to help low wage tipped workers who want higher pay with tips on top,” said Ryan O’Leary, who filed Initiative 82, with the DC Board of Elections in June 2021. “For the sake and livelihood of tipped workers in D.C., and democracy, we cannot afford to be deterred by COVID or winter weather. We will get the collection of signatures done in the coming few weeks using 100 percent volunteers.”

The D.C. Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry (DCCBBRI) is a political campaign organized by current and former tipped workers in the group One Fair Wage with major support from the Open Society Foundation, fair trade and organic body care brand Dr. Bronner’s, as well as over one thousand concerned DC citizens who believe in eliminating the archaic tip credit in D.C.

The campaign developed a COVID-era election strategy to position itself to succeed in getting Initiative 82 on the ballot utilizing in-person collection of most signatures, including outside of free covid testing sites at public libraries and fire stations.

Seeking to muster signatures from hard to reach voters in December, DCCBBRI mailed over 13,000 D.C. voters petitions for gathering signatures required to get Initiative 82 on the ballot. Still unfolding is the total number of voters signing the petitions and mailing them back with postage paid for by the campaign. Early mail returns of signed petitions are exceeding the return rate achieved in 2020 with Initiative 81 which was 5.2 percent.

For the final stage, the campaign will be deploying unpaid, volunteer petition circulators on DC streets in targeted locations to gather enough signatures by the Feb. 22 deadline to ensure Initiative 82 gets on the primary ballot in D.C. The primary is scheduled for Tuesday, June 21.

“Although optimistic, the campaign is not taking anything for granted,” said Adam Eidinger, treasurer of the D.C. Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry as well as the Campaign to Decriminalize Nature D.C., which successfully passed Initiative 81 in November 2020. “We are closing in on our goal of 27,000 validated signatures, which we believe will exceed the 5 percent of active D.C. voters required by law. There is currently some confusion within the campaign as to what the final number of signatures will be and inquiries have been made to the DC Board of Elections. We are collecting more signatures to have a cushion to exceed higher estimates of the final number needed.”

The sign-by-mail tactic to gather ballot signatures was first deployed successfully in D.C. in the 2020 election with the passage of Initiative 81 led by the Campaign to Decriminalize Nature D.C. (which shifted enforcement of laws against natural plant medicines to the lowest D.C. law enforcement priority).

“This election cycle the campaign to raise the base wage for tipped workers has adopted Covid era tactics,’” says Communications and Training Lead Nikolas Schiller. “Fortunately, there was an overlap of activists and veteran tipped workers in both campaigns, making the direct mail tactic to getting signatures more productive due to the advantage of knowing likely signers from the sign-by-mail petitions gathered in 2020.”

Tipped workers in D.C. make a base wage of $5.05 per hour paid by employers, who are allowed to credit the first $10.15 in tips per hour to satisfy their responsibility to pay tipped workers DC’s minimum wage of $15.20 per hour over a two week pay period. So, when you leave a tip, the business owner essentially credits your tip against the amount they are required to pay their tipped workers and they are using the average per hour rate of tips made over two weeks making it possible to use Saturday night tips to pay a tipped worker on a slow Tuesday.

“In the COVID era we believe tipped workers are accepting work that puts them in harm’s way and thus deserve a reasonable expectation of actual wages that are not subject to the latest business crash or boom, but rather pay people who come to work. The campaign’s slogan is “Fair wage, with tips on top!,” says Kris Furnish, field director for DCCBBRI.


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Press Release: DC Board of Elections Issues Circulating Petitions for Ballot Initiative 82

DATE: Wednesday October 13, 2021

PRESS CONTACT: Nikolas Schiller, 202-643-3878

DC Board of Elections Issues Circulating Petitions for Ballot Initiative 82

Campaign has 132 Days to Collect Approximately 26,000 Valid Signatures from DC Voters to Gain Access to the June 2022 Primary Ballot

*** MEDIA AVAILABILITY ***  Signature Collection Kicks Off Today at McPherson Square and Adams Morgan Plaza

WASHINGTON, DC – Today during the October meeting of the DC Board of Elections (DCBOE), the DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry (DCCBBRI) adopted the official circulating petition for the District of Columbia Tip Credit Elimination Act of 2021, known as ballot initiative 82. The adoption of the circulating petition starts the official ballot access clock, where the campaign has 132 days to collect the names, addresses, and signatures of 5% of the registered voters in 5 of the 8 wards of the District of Columbia. As of August 31, there are currently 517,672 registered voters in the District of Columbia, which means DCCBBRI will need to collect at least 25,884 signatures to achieve ballot access. While DCCBBRI is permitted to utilize 180 days for petition circulation, in order to place the ballot initiative before Primary election day voters, the Campaign will need to submit the required number of signatures by Tuesday, February 22, 2022.

“We are excited to hit the streets and talk with voters about why the ‘Tip Credit’ needs to be eliminated,” says Ryan O’Leary, the proposer of ballot initiative 82 and former tipped worker. “Tips are a thank you from customers and should not be counted towards the wages an employer owes its employees. We can build a better restaurant industry by changing how workers are compensated.”

The “Tip Credit” is an archaic wage system that allows employers to pay employees a sub-minimum wage, currently $5.05, and credits the first $10.15 of tips per hour towards the minimum wage of $15.20 per hour. Over the course of a pay period, if an employee makes less than $15.20 per hour after tips, then the employer is required to credit the employee the difference to ensure the employee makes at least $15.20 per hour.

Ballot measure number 82 will eliminate the “Tip Credit” by gradually raising the sub-minimum wage to $15.20 an hour. By 2027, the sub-minimum wage in the District of Columbia will be eliminated, along with the tip credit, and tipped workers will receive DC’s full minimum wage with tips on top. The measure does not impact tipping or tip sharing across a business that pays the full minimum wage, which is already the law in Washington, DC.

“The elimination of the ‘Tip Credit’ will eventually result in an hourly pay raise of $10.15. Likely more, because DC’s current minimum wage is pegged to inflation, so by 2027, the minimum wage will be higher and so will the take home pay of thousands of tipped workers,” Adam Eidinger, former restaurant worker and DCCBBRI treasurer.

The “Tip Credit” is also not very transparent for tipped workers because it is averaged out over a pay period. This allows for wage theft, discrimination, and puts workers’ livelihoods in the hands of the customer. Worse, during the pandemic, tipped workers saw less unemployment benefits because their income was often tied to unclaimed cash tips. Since union membership in the service sector is very low, public input on the way the service industry operates is needed to build a better and more just service industry.

The new ballot initiative is being proposed by a restaurant worker who lost their job during the pandemic and is in partnership with experienced DC ballot initiative activists who supported previous efforts to raise DC’s minimum wage, including Initiatives 76 and 77.

The initiative text and more information on the new campaign can be found online at

Initiative 82 Petition Kick Off

Volunteers from the DC Committee to Build A Better Restaurant Industry will be kicking off the signature collection effort at two locations today. From 12pm to 1:30pm, volunteers will be at McPherson Square (near 15th & Eye Streets NW) supporting One Fair Wage Action’s nationwide voter rally. In the evening, from 5pm to 7pm, volunteers will be circulating petitions in the Adams Morgan Plaza (corner of 18th & Columbia NW). The proposer of the ballot initiative as well as members of the Campaign will be available for interviews at both locations.

WHO: Members of the DC Committee to Build A Better Restaurant Industry and volunteers
WHAT: Initiative 82 Petition Kickoff
WHERE: McPherson Square (near 15th & Eye Streets NW)
Adams Morgan Plaza (corner of 18th & Columbia NW)
WHEN: 12pm to 1:30pm (McPherson Square)
5pm to 7pm (Adams Morgan Plaza)
WHY: The DC Committee to Build A Better Restaurant Industry believes that eliminating the archaic ‘Tip Credit’ will improve the lives of thousands of tipped workers and in order for DC voters to have their say on this ballot measure the Campaign needs to collect at least 25,884 signatures from registered voters of the District of Columbia.

Initiative 82 Petition Kick Off!


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