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Washington, D.C., lawmakers add insult to injury after overturning tipped minimum wage increase

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Sadly, it’s not just Republican lawmakers who overturn the will of the voters to keep workers underpaid and vulnerable. The Washington, D.C., mayor and council seem to be going out of their way to show that both sides do it.

D.C. voters passed Initiative 77, a measure gradually raising the tipped worker minimum wage to the full minimum wage, back in 2018, by a 12-point margin. Months later, the council and mayor overturned the will of the voters and booted tipped workers back down. To make that repeal vote seem more palatable, the lawmakers passed some provisions that would supposedly make life better for tipped workers—but more than a year later, those provisions haven’t been funded.

The District was supposed to publicize the rights of tipped workers, form a commission to support them, and set up an anonymous tip line for workers to report wage theft. Neither Mayor Muriel Bowser nor Council Chair Phil Mendelson included funding for those measures in the budget. Bowser isn’t commenting, while Mendelson, who pushed for the repeal of Initiative 77, told The Washington Post essentially that it was the fault of everyone who didn’t want Initiative 77 repealed to begin with. “The mayor should try harder this year to include it in her budget, but I would also note the so-called, self-proclaimed worker advocates did not lobby us as far as I know,” Mendelson said. Those worker advocates were putting their energy toward electing better council members and eventually passing—again—something raising the tipped worker minimum wage, but sure, it’s their fault that the jerks who repealed a voter-passed measure then didn’t fund their own so-called compromise measures.

This is obnoxious assault on workers layered on top of obnoxious assault on workers, and the lawmakers responsible should pay with their jobs.

This article was originally published at Daily Kos on January 6, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.

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