Should waiters in DC get paid minimum wage? Voters set to decide

WASHINGTON — D.C. voters will decide in June whether restaurants must pay minimum wage to servers who currently are paid a base wage and tips.

Under current federal and D.C. laws, the combination of base pay (currently $3.33 an hour) plus tips must reach at least minimum wage.

The D.C. Board of Elections has cleared Initiative 77 for the June 19 ballot. It would gradually increase the hourly wage for restaurant workers until it matches the District’s minimum wage, which is scheduled to rise to $15 an hour by 2020.

The nonprofit group Restaurant Opportunities Center United is behind Initiative 77. The group argues that tipped workers — mostly women and workers of color — live in poverty at twice the rate of the general population.

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington said the initiative will produce dramatic pay cuts and job losses for tipped workers. The association said restaurant owners and their staffs are united in opposition to the measure.


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