On November 8, 2022, DC Voters passed the "District of Columbia Tip Credit Elimination Act of 2021" aka Initiative 82, by a very large margin. Starting in the Spring of 2023, DC's subminimum tipped wage (currently $5.35 per hour) will graudally increase a few dollars each year and by 2027 Initiative 82 will ensure all tipped workers receive DC's full minimum wage of at least $16.10 plus tips on top!

Frequently Asked Questions

The entire text of the Ballot Initiative 82 is located at: www.BetterRestaurantsDC.org/i82

What is the DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry?
The DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry is a political campaign organized by current and former tipped workers as well as concerned citizens who believe in eliminating the archaic tip credit. The campaign is led by Ryan O’Leary, a former tipped worker who filed Initiative 82 with the DC Board of Elections in June 2021. The campaign’s treasurer is Adam Eidinger, who helped pass Initiatives 71 and 81.

Why did you ask me to sign a petition?
From October 13, 2021 to February 20, 2022, we asked voters to sign the official ballot access petition from the DC Board of Elections for Initiative 82 (i-82), the “District of Columbia Tip Credit Elimination Act of 2021.” This ballot initiative would gradually increase the base wage for tipped workers so that it will become the same as non-tipped workers by 2027. In order to qualify for the June 21 primary ballot, the campaign needed to collect the signatures from 5% of the registered voters in 5 of the 8 wards, which is approximately 26,205 signatures.

What about Initiative 77? Hasn’t this ballot initiative been done before?
Initiative 82 is the new Initiative 77. In June 2018, DC voters passed Initiative 77, which would also have eliminated the tip credit and raised the base wage of tipped workers to $15. Unfortunately, the DC Council overturned the voters’ decision. This year we have a new DC Council and it’s unlikely they will try to overturn this ballot initiative. Seven states (Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) already have one fair wage with tips on top and have vibrant restaurant workplaces, some thriving for decades. In fact, all seven of these states have higher tip averages than the states with a subminimum tipped wage. If these states can do it, so can DC.

What is a “Tip Credit” and why do you want to eliminate it?
Tipped workers in DC make a base wage of $5.05 per hour. Employers of tipped workers are allowed to credit the first $10.15 in tips every hour to satisfy their responsibility to pay tipped workers DC’s minimum wage of $15.20 over a pay period. So when you leave a tip, the business owner can credit your tip against the amount they are required to pay their tipped workers. The tip credit is a relic of slavery and we believe tipped workers deserve one fair wage, with tips on top.

What is the current minimum wage in DC?
As of July 1, 2021, the minimum wage for all workers is $15.20 an hour and on July 1, 2022 the minimum wage will go up to $16.10. However, the minimum base wage for tipped workers is only $5.05 an hour and will increase to $5.35 on July 1, 2022. The gap between the full minimum wage is $10.15 and will grow to $10.75. This ballot initiative will eliminate the gap by gradually increasing the base wage for tipped workers. After the initiative passes, it the base wage for tipped workers will increase to $6 in January 2023, $8 in July 2023, $10 in July 2024, $12 in July 2025, $14 in July 2026, and by July 2027, it will increase to be the same minimum wage as non-tipped workers and will be indexed to inflation.

Doesn’t the current law require employers to ensure all tipped workers make $15.20 an hour?
Yes, but not every employer follows the highly confusing aspects of the tip credit, so wage theft is very common in the restaurant industry. This ballot initiative aims to provide more wage transparency by eliminating the tip credit. The tip credit requires employers to tabulate all the hours worked during the pay period and multiply this by $5.05, then add the worker’s declared tips received throughout the pay period, and if the combined total divided by the number of hours worked is less than $15.20 per hour, the employer is supposed to contribute the difference to ensure the final amount equals DC’s minimum wage. This needlessly complex system ends up hurting tipped workers by legally stealing their tips and calling them “wages.” We can solve this by eliminating the tip credit and instituting one fair wage, with tips on top.

If this passes, can I stop tipping?
You could, but you should always tip for good service. In fact, after this passes you can feel better about tipping because you will know that your tip is not being used as a portion of the server’s base wage but will be a genuine gratuity. Customers are currently subsidizing tipped workers’ wages through their tips, and this initiative aims to end that unfair practice. In the 7 states without the tip credit, customers tip more, not less.

Will restaurant prices go up?
Prices might go up. Due to inflation, they will probably not go down. But if you can afford a $10 burger, you can likely afford a $10.20 burger. That’s a 2% increase in price if the cost of increased wages are passed down to the consumer. The typical restaurant will only need to raise costs by less than a dollar per customer to make up the tip credit. For example, Denny’s menu prices are the same in California (where the minimum wage is $15) as they are in neighboring New Mexico (where the tipped wage is only $2.13).

Who was able to sign the petition?
Petition circulation ended on February 20, 2022. But during the petition circulation phase of the campaign, any registered DC voter could sign the Initiative 82 petition. You can still check your registration by visiting www.DCBOE.org then clicking on “Voters” then click “Check Your Voter Registration Status.”

Have more questions? Call us at 202-733-4640 between 9am and 5pm or email us at Info@BetterRestaurantsDC.org

A visual explanation of how Initiative 82 will eliminate the tip credit