This November we will pass the "District of Columbia Tip Credit Elimination Act of 2021" aka Initiative 82, which will eliminate the sub-minimum tipped wage of $5.35 per hour, and ensure all tipped workers receive DC's full minimum wage of at least $16.10 plus tips on top! Please sign up to volunteer with the DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry.

Vast Majority of Restaurant Workers Support Raising the Tipped Minimum Wage

On July 1-7, 2021, Lake Research Partners designed and administered an online survey of 300 restaurant workers (who work as waiters, servers, or bartenders) in the District of Columbia. The results of the survey, which you can be downloaded here, show that an overwhelming majority of tipped workers support raising the base wage (currently $5.05 per hour) in the District of Columbia.

Here’s two slides from the survey:


DC Policy Briefing & Reception (10/26)

Join us on Tuesday, 10/26, at 4pm at the Top of the Hill Conference Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, for a very timely policy briefing and reception on raising wages and ending subminimum pay in America, with Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) and One Fair Wage, and professor at UC Berkeley, Tom Periello, President of Soros Foundation USA Programs, restaurant workers and employers, and national labor leaders.

The event is being held on the occasion of the launch of Saru’s new book, One Fair Wage: Ending Subminimum Pay in America, (New Press, 2021), which uplifts the stories and voices of subminimum wages workers across many sectors – including tipped restaurant, nail salon, parking attendant and airport wheelchair attendant workers, gig workers, workers with disabilities, incarcerated workers, and youth workers.

In the restaurant industry, the largest employer of subminimum wage workers, pandemic-impacted service workers have cited subminimum wages as the reason they are leaving the industry in the millions – leaving restaurants massively understaffed. A September 2021 New York Times piece featured One Fair Wage’s new research documenting thousands of restaurants now voluntarily raising wages in all 50 states, based on this moment of incredible worker leverage. Many of these employers are joining forces with workers to call on Congress to create a level playing field by raising wages economy-wide.

We look forward to engaging in conversation with workers, employers, investors, labor leaders, and policymakers together to discuss how subminimum wages are a source of inequity for workers and liability for employers and investors, and how setting one fair minimum wage for all workers across the nation will help alleviate poverty, sustainably grow the economy, and advance gender, racial, disability, and economic justice.

Click here to register to attend (FREE!)

Campaign Signs Available for Pickup!

The DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry has over 2,000 campaign signs ready to put up around DC and we need your help!

Come by the campaign office ( 2448 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20008 ) to pick up! Give us a call at (202) 733-4640 and let us know you’re on your way!

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Wednesday October 13, 2021

PRESS CONTACT: Nikolas Schiller, 202-643-3878
Press@BetterRestaurantsDC.org

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 BetterRestaurantsDC.org

*** MEDIA AVAILABILITY ***
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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Click here to download a PDF of this press release


Attend a Petition Circulator Training!

We will soon adopt the official circulating petition and will have 180 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 (about 26,000 voters). If we are successful, our ballot initiative will make it on the June 2022 primary ballot.

Therefore the Campaign needs to have as many petition circulators trained as possible!  From utilizing COVID-safe best practices to ensuring the DC voter’s name & address are correct, everyone who plans to circulate petitions will need to attend a 90 minute training conducted over Zoom before receiving circulating petitions from the campaign. Even if you have been trained before for previous campaigns, you will need to be trained for this campaign.

 Please click here to register! 

IMPORTANT: At this time, the Campaign is only seeking volunteer petition circulators. If the Campaign transitions to paid petition circulators, volunteers will have the option continuing as volunteers or being hired by the Campaign.

Attend “Building Back Better” (9/21/21)

Register to attend 'Build Back Better'

Join us this Tuesday at 11am on Zoom to hear from featured speakers Tom Pereillo, President of Open Society United States, to announce their investment in the new ballot measure; Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners on their new poll of DC tipped workers; Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage Action, and DC service workers like Aniyah & I and employers who are behind the new ballot initiative. 

As you know, DC service workers like us have been struggling to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers – currently just a measly $5 .05 an hour – for many years. They succeeded in winning the issue overwhelmingly on the ballot in 2018, only to have the DC Council overturn the will of the people based on opposition from the restaurant industry. 

While DC voters have always supported One Fair Wage, new polling shows that the industry is more than ready for it. New polling by Lake Research Associates will be shown at this event and the results are clear: an overwhelming majority of tipped workers want a full minimum wage with tips on top. Moreover, with the pandemic, thousands of these service workers have demonstrated that they are actually no longer willing to work in the service industry unless they receive a full wage plus tips. As a result, many DC restaurant owners have transitioned to paying a full livable wage with tips on top. 

In this context, One Fair Wage Action and other DC ally groups have resurrected the tipped worker minimum wage ballot measure, which the DC Board of Elections just unanimously passed to petition stage.

Please click here to register to attend!

Press Release: DC Board of Elections Concludes New Voter Initiative is Proper Subject Matter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Thursday, August 26, 2021

PRESS CONTACT: Nikolas Schiller, 202-643-3878
Press@BetterRestaurantsDC.org

DC Board of Elections Concludes New Voter Initiative is Proper Subject Matter

Today’s Vote Allows Voter Initiative to Move Toward Signature Collection Phase
Campaign Aims to Place Voter Initiative on June 2022 Primary Ballot

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry is pleased to announce that during the monthly meeting of the DC Board of Elections (DCBOE), the new voter initiative, the “District of Columbia Full Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers Amendment Act of 2022,” was deemed to be proper subject matter, and will be permitted to go forward with the signature collection phase of the campaign this fall.

“We are pleased that the DCBOE agreed with Attorney General Karl Racine and General Counsel Nicole Streeter that our initiative is proper subject matter and voters of the District of Columbia will have the opportunity to weigh in on this important issue,” says Aniyah Vines, Chairwoman of the committee. “Tipped workers deserve a full wage, not one that is subsidized by the whims of customers, and this initiative will go a long way in fixing this injustice.”

“DC election law requires that after a ballot initiative is submitted to the DC Board of Elections their General Counsel must seek the opinions of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia and the General Counsel of the Council of District of Columbia concerning whether the initiative is proper subject matter before it can move forward to the signature collection phase,” says attorney Joseph Sandler, whose firm, Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, drafted the initiative on behalf of former restaurant workers leading the effort.

Ballot initiatives are prohibited from violating the DC Human Rights Act, amending the DC Home Rule Charter, conflicting with the U.S. Constitution, appropriating funds, negating or limiting budgetary acts of the DC Council, and must be properly filed with the DCBOE and the DC Office of Campaign Finance. Although there have been over 81 voter initiatives submitted to the DCBOE since 1979, most were not deemed to be proper subject matter and were withdrawn or unable to proceed.

“Ballot initiatives cannot legislate discrimination. But the current wage law, passed by the DC Council and vocally supported by the Mayor, is discriminatory. Customers discriminate against tipped workers every single day and this initiative will fix this injustice by ensuring their wages are not subject biases,” says initiative proposer and former tipped worker Ryan O’Leary. “Tips are supposed to be a ‘thank you’ for good service and should have never been allowed to count towards a worker’s wages. We can build a better restaurant industry by changing how workers are compensated.”

Now that the initiative has been deemed proper subject matter, the DCBOE will prepare the official petition for circulation and upon issuance the campaign will have 180 days to collect approximately 5% or 26,000 signatures from registered DC voters in order to place the measure on the June 2022 Primary Election ballot. If approved by 50% or more of voters, the “District of Columbia Full Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers Amendment Act of 2022” would have to withstand Congressional review and possible DC Council amendments before being implemented. As proposed, tipped workers would see their first pay raise of $1 in January 2023 and $2 annually until 2027, when the minimum wage will be at least $15.20 an hour (indexed to inflation), plus 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.

If approved by DC voters in June 2022, the new ballot initiative would gradually phase out the sub-minimum base wage tipped workers currently receive and raise it to the same minimum wage non-tipped workers get, with tips on top. As of July 1st, the current sub-minimum wage in DC is $5.05 an hour and if a tipped worker does not make the prevailing minimum wage of $15.20 an hour, the employer is supposed to make up the difference. However, this system is not transparent and 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 for the majority of service workplace.

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.

QUOTES FROM TIPPED WORKERS
DC tipped workers testified at the hearing in support of the ballot measure to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers. In their comments, they raised the fact that the subminimum wage for tipped workers has subjected them to illegal discrimination, in addition to economic instability. They articulated that with the pandemic, conditions worsened, with tips decreasing while health risks, hostility and sexual harassment increasing — all leading to thousands of workers leaving the industry and reporting that they do not want to return to work in restaurants without a livable wage with tips on top.

“The subminimum wage is a legacy of slavery and has always been unjust, but the pandemic made a bad situation worse— tips went down, and health risks and harassment went up. And it’s been even worse for our city’s most vulnerable who work in the service industry.” – Dia King, Ward 7

“This ballot measure is critical, and can do much to help alleviate the stress of working in tipped labor environments. There is no labor shortage, there is a shortage of wages and it’s time to finally correct that.” Julian Johnson, Ward 1

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

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Click here to download a PDF of this press release


+ Click here to download a PDF of the opinion from the Office of the Attorney General
+ Click here to download a PDF of the opinion from the General Counsel of the Council of the District of Columbia

DCBOE Public Hearing Zoom Link & Agenda (8/26/21)

Below is the Zoom Link & text of the DCBOE Public Notice for the Regular Board Meeting:


The District of Columbia Board of Elections announces that the next Regular Board Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 26, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. In light of the continuing public health crisis, the Board will meet remotely. Members of the public can access the meeting by using the following information:

Join Zoom Meeting:
https://zoom.us/j/5546215828?pwd=MkVTRnBVUW8yc1lhY2tFRC9qY0Vvdz09

Meeting ID: 554 621 5828
Passcode: 299837

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Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/a9gZ43CBe


The Agenda for the meeting is as follows:
1) Call to Order

2) Ascertainment of Quorum
AGENDA

3) Adoption of Agenda/Approval of Minutes
Regular Board Meeting – Wednesday, July 7, 2021
(Transcripts are available for review in the Office of the General Counsel)

4) Board Matters

5) General Counsel’s Report – Terri D. Stroud

A. Rulemaking
1. Emergency and Proposed Rulemaking

a. Amend Chapter 6 to reconcile it with the Initiative and Referendum Process Improvement Amendment Act of 2020, which provides that a write-in candidate must declare their candidacy no later than 4:45 p.m. on the third (3rd) day immediately following a primary election, and no later than the seventh (7th) day following a general or special election

b. Amend Chapter 7 to reconcile it with the Primary Date Alteration Amendment Act of 2019, which mandates that an election’s early voting may last for no more than 12 days

c. Amend Chapter 10 to outline the rules that shall apply to the counting of words in a proposer’s statement in a Recall Notice and the elected official’s response thereto

B. Proper Subject Matter Determination Hearing for the “Elizabeth Davis Education Equity (EDEE) Pathway Policy Act of 2022” Initiative (continued)

C. Adoption of Petition to Recall Sydelle Moore, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Single Member District 5D05

D. Adoption of Petition to Recall Holly Muhammad, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Single Member District 8A01

E. Proper Subject Matter Determination Hearing for the “DC Full Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers Amendment Act of 2022”

F. Public Hearing, “Marina Streznewski v. D.C. Office of Campaign Finance”

G. Public Hearing, “Tanika Washington v. D.C. Office of Campaign Finance”

H. Litigation Status
1. Jason Christopher Long v. D.C. Board of Elections

Campaign Finance Report – Cecily Collier-Montgomery

Executive Director’s Report – Monica Holman Evans
A. General Matters

8) Public Matters

9) Adjournment


You can download a PDF of this Public Notice here