Washington D.C. Minimum Wage Initiative (November 2014)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
|Not on ballot|
The chief organization behind the initiative was called the D.C. Working Families Coalition, which launched late in 2013, and includes many unions and labor organizations.
The organization announced its ballot initiative effort in November of 2013. The Coalition needed 22,608 valid signatures by July 7, 2014, to qualify its initiative for the ballot. They did not meet this requirement. If this measure had been approved, it would have raised the minimum wage to $12.50 per hour, from the current $8.25 per hour, by 2017. It would also have raised the minimum hourly base-wage of tipped workers from $2.75 per hour to $8.75 per hour.
The D.C. Working Families Coalition, along with several other union groups and activists, discussed plans to target future elections with a similar measure.
The coalition behind the initiative was called D.C. Working Families and consisted of:
- Local 25 of UNITE HERE, the hotel workers union;
- locals 32BJ and 1199 of the Service Employees International Union; and
- Local 657 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America
- Jews United for Justice
- Our D.C
"Can't Survive on $8.25": An Our DC video
Arguments in favor
The Rev. George Gilbert of Holy Trinity United Baptist: "We are the nation's capital, but we are becoming the capital of inequality. We have become a city that boasts about the amount of new residents ... while the folks who have been here are being thrown away."
Some of the most outspoken critics argued that this measure would have been devastating to the local restaurant and bar industries, while not helping people in need. These opponents pointed to provisions in the proposed initiative that would have applied the minimum wage to all hospitality and wait staff workers - not counting tips - as well as other minimum wage workers. In 2014, tipped workers were paid a base pay of a minimum of $2.77 per hour, with the rest of their compensation consisting of tips. The new initiative would have required restaurant and bar owners to pay waiters, waitresses and bar tenders $8.75 per hour in base pay, with tips on top of that. Opponents argued that the waiter and bar tender jobs were, in fact, very lucrative and that the initiative would have given a large raise to employees that already made at least minimum wage, if not two or three times minimum wage. They said that this extra expense would have disrupted the job market in the city, potentially destroyed the great tradition of tipping and put many small, independent restaurants and bars in danger of closing down.
The City council unanimously approved its own minimum wage ordinance, raising the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour, a dollar lower than the proposed initiative would have established.
D.C. Working Families commissioned a poll of 606 voters in November of 2013, asking about support for a $12.50 per hour minimum wage and a tipped worker minimum wage of $8.75 per hour. Primary responses showed 74 percent in favor. When the opposing argument that a wage hike could likely hurt small businesses and some employees, especially young people of color, was presented, the support decreased, but only to 65 percent.
In a statement responding to the results of the polls, the executive vice president of D.C. Working Families, Delvone Michael, said, "It's no surprise that powerful corporations want to pull the minimum wage proposal downward. And sadly, it's no surprise that some of our politicians are listening to them, instead of the people they represent who overwhelmingly support a minimum wage of $12.50 according to new polling. Luckily, next year, the people of the District will have a chance to make their voices heard."
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- Local wages and pay on the ballot
- November 4, 2014 ballot measures in Washington, D.C.
- Notable local measures on the ballot
- Washington Post, "D.C. Working Families Coalition launches, targets minimum wage hike," October 30, 2013
- Aljazeera America, "Activists launch ballot initiative to raise DC minimum wage," November 19, 2014
- Washington Post, "D.C. minimum wage measures won’t make 2014 ballot," July 1, 2014
- The DCist, "Coalition Kicks Off Effort For Minimum Wage Ballot Initiative," November 19, 2013
- Washington Blade, "Don’t be fooled by D.C. tipped wage ballot initiative," April 24, 2014
- Washington Post, "D.C. Council backs $11.50 minimum wage," December 3, 2013
- The DCist, "Poll: 74 Percent of Voters Support $12.50 Minimum Wage," November 26, 2013