DC City Council Repeals Initiative Raising Minimum Wage After Pushback From Restaurant Industry

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Henry Rodgers Chief National Correspondent
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The Washington, D.C. city council voted to repeal an initiative that would have raised the minimum wage for all tipped employees in an 8-5 vote Tuesday after continued pushback from workers across the nation’s capital.

Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she plans to sign the legislation that would repeal initiative 77, which was put forward by Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC), a government-funded group. The organization claims that if the initiative passed, tipped workers would all be paid the same amount, regardless of effort or seniority.

Restaurant owners and tipped workers in D.C., however, were not pleased with the initiative, fearing they would lose money and be forced to move to a state without these laws.

Initiative 77 would have raised the minimum wage for tipped workers from $3.33 an hour to $15. Non-tipped employees would be paid the same as a tipped employee, which many in the industry disagreed with.

The raise in the minimum wage would be implemented over time, with yearly increases until the wages reached $15 in 2026. (RELATED: DC Restaurant Industry Rallies Against Vote To Raise Minimum Wage)

Before the vote on June 19, dozens of restaurants across Washington, D.C. held events to rally against initiative 77, joined by members of a coalition called Save Our Tips, which has led the fight against the initiative, making signs, buttons, flyers and spreading awareness on the issue. The group is filled with tipped-employees who believe initiative 77 could cost them their jobs.

Throughout the city, there were “Vote No on 77” signs — funded by Save Our Tips — posted in front of several dozen restaurants.

“Today mark’s a huge day for DC, its food scene and America as a whole,” Travis Weiss, director of culinary concepts at Rebellion DC and The Armory told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We are all aware by now the negative impact 77 would have had on this town had it been executed, the industry as a whole spoke their mind very clearly on how we felt about it.

“What I’m excited about is in a town that is supposedly deeply divided politically, both sides were able to work together to achieve the ultimate goal, a repeal of 77,” he continued.

Food and beverage director Dane Nakamura echoed a similar message, saying he was happy to see the local restaurant industry join together to help overturn the initiative.

“It’s amazing to see the industry community in Washington, D.C. rally behind reality, facts and meritocracy and win,” he told TheDCNF. “The restaurant industry in D.C. already has it’s back against the wall. But this turns the tide.”

“The businesses that operate on impossible margins to begin with will be able to ensure that the individuals who make this vibrant scene possible maintain an actual fair wage,” Nakamura continued.

Bowser is expected to sign the legislation in the coming days.

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