The people of the District of Columbia will have the opportunity to alter the tipping wage schedule for the second time in around four years this November. Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, discussed Bill 82, passed by the District of Columbia Council, with FOX 5’s Jacqueline Matter.
A similar bill was passed but reversed by the D.C. Council only four years ago. Employers in the District of Columbia would be required by Initiative 82 to pay tipped workers $16.10 per hour, regardless of how much they receive in tips. President of One Fair Wage Saru Jayaraman emphasized the need to treat customer-facing employees properly. “You have to compensate people fairly, which will happen in the nation’s capital. It would be much better if the restaurant sector could get better service.” He said.
Harassment levels rose, while tips remain declined
The current minimum wage for tipped workers is $5.35 if they earn at least $16.10 in tips.
Many of these employees, proponents of the program claim, have had trouble making ends meet since the outbreak. “When sales dropped, employees’ tips also decreased”. Jayaraman added.
“Harassment levels reportedly rose dramatically. Many ladies said they were requested to remove their masks so their attractiveness could be assessed before a gratuity was given.” At the same time that this law was introduced, many D.C. eateries were experiencing severe staffing shortages.”
“D.C. is covered in “Help Wanted” signs, and we’ve all seen them. Everybody has seen “Sorry, we’re closed on Mondays due to a lack of staff” signs “As Jayaraman put it. “Unpredictability exists only at the very end. They will now have a regular basic income plus tips to count on.” Opponents of the bill say it would drive up restaurant prices and that many tipped workers in the District already earn a living wage plus tips.
Tipped workers, small businesses, and diners in the District will all feel the effects of Initiative 82. If it passes, tipped workers in D.C. could see their annual earnings cut by as much as $10,000. Restaurants will have to raise prices across the board, lay off workers, implement mandatory service charges, or shut down.
“The restaurant business is in danger, and owners and servers are speaking out against this legislation.” Restaurant Association of Greater Washington Interim Executive Director Julie Sproesser said. If approved, the salary raise would be implemented gradually over five years. The minimum wage for tips will be on the ballot in Maryland next spring.