The Disingenuousness Of No On 77

Last week, D.C. held a referendum, Initiative 77, that would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to $15/hour by 2026. Fortunately, Yes on 77 was successful, meaning the quarter of D.C. workers who are cheated out of the wages they are owed (owners are supposed to make up the difference to the minimum wage if they don’t get enough tips) will finally get redress. Note to the City Council members who have talked about overturning this initiative: if you had done your jobs and had real labor law enforcement in D.C., we might not be having this discussion. So stop sucking at your jobs and protect low-wage workers. It’s also worth noting the No on 77 people aren’t going to quit. While the rest of us have other things to do, they will keep hammering at this. But I digress.

The disingenuousness comes in two forms. First, the No on 77 contingent is arguing that low turnout means this referendum is invalid and doesn’t represent the will of the people. Of course, the D.C. Council, most of whom are opposed to 77, chose to schedule the referendum during a June primary, and not the general election in November. This is a win-win for them: it increases the likelihood that those who favor 77, and it was the black and brown areas favored 77, will be less likely to turn out (wards 7 and 8 were heavily in favor of 77, but had very low turnout), giving them a better chance for victory. And if they lost, then they could claim the low turnout invalidates the results. So that’s dishonest.

But what’s more disingenuous are statements like this:

You had a year to propose what a “good system for all” would look like. An entire year. And nothing was ever proposed. There’s no proposal on the website. There’s an obvious reason why–there’s no magic way to fix this, as either customers will pay more or owners will earn less (that the elephant in the room, high business rents, isn’t discussed is also a problem). There’s no magic pony here. Workers will have to get paid more, which means a wealth transfer from the upper middle class (and higher) to workers. Too many are still close to or below the poverty line. And the No on 77 don’t have a solution, while the Yes on 77 do.

Same as it ever was.

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1 Response to The Disingenuousness Of No On 77

  1. Neva Knott says:

    This is an important issue on many levels. As a person who worked often in tipped industries (in Oregon, where a tipped employee earns at least minimum wage plus tips), I can tell anyone willing to listen, straight up, the combo of the two is what makes those jobs a living wage, and in some (now rare) cases, a good wage. I now work in a service industry at $14.50 an hour, in a supervisory role, and I make less than my rent on a one-bedroom apartment, much less what I need to pay rent, bills, buy food, and subsidize my health insurance, let alone a car payment or anything else we consider basic in the USA… so the second issue here is this: the idea of $15 being a living wage is a joke in pretty much any city in our country. Service jobs are hard work and deserve the same wage as construction or manufacturing. The next issue I see in the region you’re addressing is representation… the legislative reps for the low-voter-turnout districts you cite should be out working for their people and showing how much of a positive affect this has on their lives.

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