Together 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 $5.05 per hour, and ensure all tipped workers receive DC's full minimum wage of at least $15.20 plus tips on top! Please sign up to volunteer with the DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry.

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

###


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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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

Press Release: Attorney General Karl Racine and the General Counsel of the DC Council Agree: New Voter Initiative Can Go Forward

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Tuesday, July 20, 2021

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

Attorney General Karl Racine and the General Counsel of the DC Council Agree: New Voter Initiative Can Go Forward

DC Board of Elections Public Hearing Postponed to August 26

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry (DCCBRI) is pleased to announce it received supportive legal opinions concerning the “District of Columbia Full Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers Amendment Act of 2022,” which should ease the initiative  forward to the signature gathering phase this fall after a DC Board of Elections (DCBOE) public hearing on Thursday, August 26, 2021. The opinions can be read at BetterRestaurantsDC.org.

“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 amending the DC Home Rule Charter, conflicting with the U.S. Constitution, violate the DC Human Rights Act, appropriate funds, negate or limit a budgetary act 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 unable to proceed.

“We are pleased that Attorney General Karl Racine and General Counsel Nicole Streeter agreed that our initiative is proper subject matter and voters of the District of Columbia will have the opportunity to weigh in again on this important issue at the upcoming public hearing,” 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.”

Now that the opinions have been issued, the next step for the new initiative is for the DCBOE to hold the public hearing, which will now take place on Thursday, August 26. Originally scheduled for August 4th, the public hearing has been moved to the last Thursday in August. The public is encouraged to sign up to testify and provide their testimony on why the initiative should go forward.

After the initiative is deemed proper subject matter at the hearing by a vote of the 3-member Board of Elections, 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 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.

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

###


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

Attend the Subject Matter Hearing at the DC Board of Elections (8/26/21)

Please make plans to attend or testify!

Click here to RSVP on Facebook!


DC BOARD OF ELECTIONS

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
RECEIPT AND INTENT TO REVIEW INITIATIVE MEASURE

The Board of Elections shall consider in a public hearing whether the proposed measure, the “DC Full Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers Amendment Act of 2022,” is a proper subject matter for initiative at the Board’s regular meeting on Thursday, August 26, 2021 at 10:30 a.m., at 1015 Half Street SE, Suite 750, Washington DC 20003.

In making a subject matter determination, the Board does not consider the merits of a proposed measure. Instead, it may consider only whether the proposed measure meets the subject matter requirements set forth in District of Columbia law. Specifically, the Board must reject the proposed measure if it determines that:

  • The measure conflicts with or seeks to amend the Title IV of the DC Home Rule Act (“the District Charter”);
  • The measure conflicts with the U.S. Constitution;
  • The measure has not been properly filed;
  • The verified statement of contributions (the measure committee’s statement of organization and report of receipts and expenditures) was not timely filed;
  • The measure would authorize discrimination in violation of the DC Human Rights Act;
  • The measure would negate or limit a budgetary act of the DC Council; or
  • The measure would appropriate funds

Those who wish to testify at the hearing on the propriety of the proposed measure in light of the above-referenced criteria should contact the Board’s Office of the General Counsel at 202-727-2194 or ogc@dcboe.org and provide their name, address, telephone number, and name of the organization represented (if any) by no later than Friday, July 30, 2021, at 4:00 p.m.. Any written testimony or memoranda should be submitted for the record to the Board’s Office of the General Counsel, 1015 Half Street SE, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20003 or at ogc@dcboe.org by that date and time as well. Individuals shall be permitted a maximum of three minutes for oral presentations. Representatives of organizations shall be permitted a maximum of five minutes for oral presentations.


Click here to download the Public Notice


Press Release: A Better Restaurant Industry is Possible!

The DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry

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

A Better Restaurant Industry is Possible!

New DC Committee Forms to Build A Better Restaurant Industry by Passing Voter Initiative to Improve Wages and Competitiveness

WASHINGTON, DC – As DC’s restaurants, hotels, hair salons, and parking lots experience a post-pandemic boom, many laid off tipped service workers are not returning to their jobs because they don’t want to work for unfair wages with little job security or pay dignity. Now a group of service workers, concerned citizens, and business allies are launching the DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry with their submission of the “District of Columbia Full Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers Amendment Act of 2022” to the DC Board of Elections (DCBOE).

If approved by DC voters in 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 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.

Initiative Proposer Ryan O’Leary has been a resident of Washington, DC for 10 years and has worked in the restaurant industry as a server. “After being laid off in the wake of the pandemic, I realized I could no longer shrug off the disrespect I experienced and witnessed while working for tips,” says O’Leary, adding “I was forced to confront how precarious our positions in the service economy truly were, how disposable we are considered to be, and how unjustly we were treated by an industry with a criminally low unionization rate, rampant wage theft, and of course, the indignity of being paid a subminimum wage.”

The Chairwoman of the new DC effort to build a better restaurant industry is Howard University Senior Aniyah Vines. Her experience in the service sector motivated her to speak out recently at a rally for higher wages in Chinatown. “I had to look for a job to help pay my tuition upon arriving in Washington, DC in 2018 to receive a higher education at Howard University. I’ve engaged people who feel powerless to demand more, but in DC – with the public’s support – I believe we can restore dignity in work by paying fair wages. I know too many individuals who feel that they have no other choice but to withstand workplace harassment to hustle for tips because they desperately need the money. Our fight is for those who are not able to fight for themselves. We are fighting for essential workers to receive an essential wage, while improving the overall experience in the workplace by putting tips on top of their wages, where they belong.”

O’Leary and Vines co-lead the DC chapter of One Fair Wage, a national organization of 250,000 service workers dedicated to ending subminimum wages and making the service sector more sustainable for all. Together with RAISE, a national association of 1000 ‘high road’ restaurant owners committed to increased race and gender equity in the restaurant industry, One Fair Wage is supporting the new DC ballot measure in alignment with their work co-leading efforts to pass the federal Raise the Wage Act, which has been sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott in the House and Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Senate and proposes to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 and end the subminimum wage for tipped workers, workers with disabilities, and youth. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and President Biden have all publicly championed the Raise the Wage Act generally and ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers specifically, with President Biden making it a part of his Executive Order for federally contracted workers and Sen Schumer recently headlining a ‘Server for an Hour’ event in NY to underscore the need to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers.

The next step for the new initiative is for the DCBOE to consider if it is proper subject matter, which will take place within the next two months. When approved by the DCBOE for petition circulation, the campaign committee will have 180 days to collect approximately 26,000 valid signatures from DC voters by March 2022 in order to place the measure on the June 2022 Primary Election ballot. If approved by 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.

In the fall of 2018, after being approved by a 11.48% margin (55.74% voted yes) by DC voters in the June primary election, the DC Council voted to overturn Initiative 77, which also slowly phased out the sub-minimum wage. Then, seeking to stop the DC Council from overturning the legislation, “Save Our Vote” advocates collected 35,000 signatures to allow voters to reverse the DC Council decision through a referendum. On the same day the signatures were submitted to the DCBOE to place the question on the ballot, a DC Superior Court Judge intervened and declared DCBOE mishandled the referendum. Years later, the COVID pandemic further highlighted the problems associated with the sub-minimum wage leading to this new effort, which includes outreach to DC Council members to pledge to respect the outcome of the vote.

Leaders of the new effort feel that the composition of the new DC Council and the dramatic change in support among restaurant workers and employers for a full wage for tipped workers both bode well for the successful passage and implementation of the ballot measure in 2022. “A majority of the new Council supports the ballot measure and will not vote to overturn it. But more importantly, restaurant workers have now indicated that they are no longer willing to return to work in restaurants without a full, stable wage from their employer with tips on top – meaning restaurant owners cannot fully reopen DC restaurants without raising wages, and that’s led to a lot of DC restaurant owners being more supportive of policy change to create a level playing field. Policy change is essential to ensure all boats rise together and we can enjoy the DC restaurant industry at the scale we enjoyed it pre-pandemic,” said Adam Eidinger, who is Treasurer for the new campaign committee. A recent report by the organization One Fair Wage based on 3000 surveys of restaurant workers showed that 53% are considering leaving their restaurant jobs; 76% say it’s due to low wages and tips, and 78% say they would only return to work in restaurants if given a stable, livable wage by their employer with tips on top.

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

###


Click here to download a PDF of this press release

Share Your Story!

Current and former tipped workers have stories to share about their experience in the restaurant industry. From unruly customers to wage theft to sexual harassment, the DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry would like share your stories so that voters who have not worked in the industry can better understand what tipped workers go through.

Please click here to submit your story.


Photo from “Washington DC Service Workers’ Experience of Health & Harassment During COVID-19