D.C. voters backed Initiative 77 Tuesday, raising the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, up from the current level of $12.50, and phasing out the $3.33 an hour minimum wage for tipped workers. With just under 90 percent of the precincts reporting in at press time, the margin was 55-44 percent.
The effort had been championed by organized labor and liberal groups but opposed by the restaurant industry as well as city government leaders such as Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser and most members of the D.C. City Council. Many tipped employees opposed the measure as well, arguing it would keep them stuck at the minimum wage rather than potentially earning more.
Federal law allows business to pay workers as little as $2.13 an hour if those workers are in professions that customarily receive tips from patrons, such as waitresses or bartenders. The employer, however, must pay up to at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour if the wages and tips don't equal that.