Initiative 77 supporters say they hope DC Council won’t block wage boost for tipped workers

WASHINGTON — Supporters stood on the steps of the Wilson Building, in D.C., to celebrate Tuesday’s passage of Initiative 77, which raises the minimum wage for tipped employees to $15 an hour by 2026 — a proposal that found supporters and detractors in the hospitality industry.

Vasu Abhiraman, with the group DC for Democracy, spoke at the news conference and said the initiative could help reduce sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.

“If the difference between a poverty wage and a living wage is your tips and being nice to the customer that might be sexually harassing you, that’s a bad incentive,” said Abhiraman.

Several D.C. Council members have spoken out against the initiative. Many restaurateurs are also against it, saying it increases labor costs.

Proponents at Wednesday’s event said they hope the D.C. Council will not overturn the initiative.

But Diana Ramirez, with the group One Wage DC, says they are open to compromise.

“This is what businesses need to get to one fair wage. We’re absolutely willing to sit down with the Restaurant Association and restaurant owners to get there,” said Ramirez.

But tipped worker Trupti Patel made it clear that patrons will not pay their wages.

“Tipping should be what it was meant to be in its original form — a token of gratitude and appreciation for a job well done,” Patel said.

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