2022 DC election: Voters say yes (again) to DC tipping proposal

D.C. voters have spoken and it’s a resounding yes to Initiative 82, also known as the Increase Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees Measure.

The proposal passed with nearly 75% of the vote, according to The Associated Press.

Initiative 82 sought to phase out tip credit, which lets employers count a portion of a worker’s tips earned every hour toward D.C.’s minimum wage of $16.10. D.C. workers who get tips are currently paid the tipped minimum wage of $5.35 per hour. The minimum wage for workers who are not typically tipped is $16.10.

Under the initiative, tipped workers’ wages would be gradually raised to match the base wage of non-tipped workers by 2027, on top of tips.

It’s not the first time D.C. voters have had to make a decision about this. In 2018, voters passed Initiative 77, which aimed to raise the minimum base pay for tipped workers to standard minimum wage over a period of time. However, a few months later, the D.C. Council overturned it, deeming its wording deceptive.

Ryan O’Leary proposed Initiative 82. A former D.C. server, O’Leary said he just wanted to make sure that “workers have a safety net of a fair base wage before tips.”

And while many servers were split on Initiative 77, O’Leary told the “DMV Download” podcast that the measure has the overwhelming support of workers this time.

“COVID really has changed a lot of workers’ opinions of their jobs and what they’re worth,” he said.

O’Leary said he is hopeful that the D.C. Council will not overturn the measure that was approved by voters Tuesday, but D.C. Deputy Mayor for planning and economic development John Falcicchio told WTOP that the measure would likely need to be reworked by the legislative body.

Proponents of Initiative 82 argued that the tip credit hurts the District’s tipped workers at bars, restaurants, salons and more by providing a legal route for wage theft. Critics said that passing the measure would place a burden on small businesses and reduce take-home pay for workers and result in higher prices.

WTOP’s Luke Lukert and Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report.

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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