FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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.
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.