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DC’s Democrat Mayor Won’t Back A $15 Minimum Wage

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District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser bucked the trend of Democrat mayors across the country and will not support a $15 minimum wage initiative.

In July, activists in D.C. successfully petitioned the city’s elections board to get an initiative on the 2016 ballot that would up the minimum wage to $15. Bowser, though, was hesitant to support that initiative.

In an interview with DCist Tuesday, Bowser successfully side-stepped a question regarding her support for the $15 initiative, but gave a hint as to her position.

From the DCist interview:

DCist: Activists for a $15 minimum wage are also currently fighting the D.C. Chamber of Commerce to get it on the ballot. If it makes it on there, would you vote for it?

MB: I don’t know that it is going to get on the ballot, so I’m going to see about that. I think the Council actually went through the right process in raising the wage that has not put the District at a competitive disadvantage. The bottom line is this though: we need good paying jobs in Washington, D.C. to be able to afford to live here. We just need to be very thoughtful about how we get there.

DCist: You say the way the Council went about it is ‘the right way.’ Does that imply that this way is wrong?

MB: Let me just put it this way: If it gets on the ballot, it wouldn’t affect the federal government or the D.C. government. That doesn’t sound right to me.

Bowser did not say whether she supports the initiative or not, but instead explained that she doesn’t believe it has the support to make it on the voting ballot.

According to D.C. law, the minimum wage activists need to collect around 25,000 signatures — or 5 percent of the D.C. population — on a petition before November 2016 or the initiative won’t be eligible for a vote.

A spokesman for Bowser did not immediately return a request for clarification on her position.

In July, D.C. raised its minimum wage from $9.50 per hour, which was already higher than any state in the nation, to $10.50. The minimum-wage hike came as part of a three-year initiative approved by the D.C. council in 2013 that will see it climb again in 2016 to $11.50.

Under the initiative being pushed by activists, though, D.C. government employees would be exempt from the $15 requirement, which is what Bowser appeared to take issue with.

In 2013, Bowser, a member of the D.C. Council at the time, supported raising the minimum wage, but voted against a separate “living wage” bill that would but more restrictions on large retailers in the city.

Earlier this year, the New York Wage Board voted to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers in New York City to $15 an hour by the end of 2018, and for the rest of the state by 2021.

Seattle enacted a similar minimum wage law that will raise it to $15 an hour by 2018 and Los Angeles will raise its minimum wage to $15 by 2020.

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