DC Council officially overturns Initiative 77, killing minimum-wage increase

Waiter Tim McGrane clears a table after the lunch rush. He is among those concerned that raising the minimum wage would mean a higher bill for customers and a lower tip. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

WASHINGTON — The D.C. Council has voted to repeal Initiative 77.

The initiative, approved by voters in June, would have raised minimum base pay for tipped workers to standard minimum wage over a period of time.

After a contentious battle that had raged since its introduction, the Council officially killed the referendum in an 8-5 vote.

Earlier this month, the initiative had been overturned in an emergency vote. Critics on the Council had said that the measure’s wording was misleading, and that those who voted for the measure probably didn’t realize they voted to cut the pay of many workers and placed an undue burden on small businesses, resulting in higher prices or layoffs to pay for what would become bigger payrolls.

With its vote Tuesday, Council members addressed other issues that the initiative sought to solve. The measure that officially overturns Initiative 77 also requires sexual-harassment training for employees, managers, owners and operators. In addition, it requires additional training regarding the District’s existing wage theft law, and creates a tip line and reporting system for offenses.

The repealed measure now heads to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s desk for signing.

District residents approved the referendum June 19 by a margin of over 8,000 votes. In a tweet after the Council’s earlier vote, initiative proponent One Fair Wage DC said that the Council had “sent a disturbing message to their constituents.”

WTOP’s Jack Pointer contributed to this report.


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