Jun 17, 2018

Why it matters: The consequences of D.C.’s tipped wage vote

A waitress takes takes orders at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

D.C. voters will decide a ballot measure on Tuesday that requires restaurant and bar owners to gradually increase the $3.33 “tipped wage” for workers until it matches the city’s $15 minimum wage of $12.50 per hour — a figure set to rise to $15 an hour by 2020.

The bigger picture: While the Fight for $15 campaign has forced dozens of states and cities across the U.S. to increase their minimum wage in recent years, activists have finally begun to turn their attention to tipped workers.

What’s happening: The measure, dubbed Initiative 77, pits the restaurant industry — as well as most of the city's political establishment — against progressive organizations in a city that has some of the most generous employee benefit policies in the country.

The backstory: Tipped workers were exempt from the hourly minimum wage hike in 2016, which raised the floor to $15 an hour by 2020 and include futures annual automatic increases to inflation. They are currently paid $3.33 an hour and collect tips to supplement their income. If the money from tips falls short of the $12.50 prevailing minimum wage, their employer must make up the difference. 

What they're saying: The activists behind the measure say workers, especially those at chain restaurants and others who are currently at greater risk of wage theft, would no longer have to reply on tips from customers to enforce a steady income. Attorney Daniel Katz at the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, told WAMU 88.5 that tipped workers often face intimidation and retaliation when they inform their employers that tips came up short.

  • Opponents, notably the restaurant industry, say the initiative could result slashing hours and pay. "Don’t be fooled! #Initiative77 hurts bar, restaurant & nightclub workers. If #Initiative77 passes, it would actually reduce the pay for servers & bartenders," the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, said in a tweet Sunday.
  • Yes, but: There's also an argument that there's no evidence to support that claim.

State of play: Seven states — Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — have so far eliminated the tipped wage system. In New York, the state’s Department of Labor will wrap-up its seventh hearing later this month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order to consider eliminating the two-tiered wage system.

What's next: The D.C. Council — a majority of whose members are against the initiative — could pass a measure to overturn it or make changes if approved by voters.

Go deeper

In photos: Authorities issue warning as Americans venture out for Memorial Day weekend

Venice Beach in Los Angeles on May 24. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Authorities urged Americans to maintain social distancing and wear masks against the coronavirus amid reports of packed beaches and bars during the Memorial Day weekend.

Driving the news: Law enforcement stepped up beach patrols, authorities on Florida's Gulf Coast closed parking lots because they were full and there were crowded scenes at Lake of the Ozarks bars in Missouri, per AP, which reports a shooting injured several people at a packed Daytona Beach in Florida.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,405,029 — Total deaths: 344,997 — Total recoveries — 2,168,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,642,021 — Total deaths: 97,698 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans sue California over mail-out ballot plan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a February news conference in Sacramento, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump accused Democrats of trying "Rig" November's general election as Republican groups filed a lawsuit against California Sunday in an attempt to stop Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from mailing ballots to all registered voters.

Driving the news: Newsom signed an executive order this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic ensuring that all registered voters in the state receive a mail-in ballot.