Council Chairman Mendelson Is Still Being Disingenuous About Initiative 77

Tuesday, the D.C. Council passed the first vote to overturn the Initiative 77 referendum which would have raised the minimum wage for tipped workers to $15/hour by 2025. One of the supporters of Initiative 77, Council Member Elissa Silverman, proposed a compromise (boldface mine):

Silverman tried to negotiate a compromise to keep Initiative 77 alive by exempting servers and bartenders, who disproportionately came out against the measure, from the wage increase.

Instead, she wanted to keep the wage hike for other categories of workers such as parking lot attendants and hotel bell-hops, as well as workers in restaurants who share gratuities, such as barbacks and food-runners. Those kinds of workers don’t earn enough in tips to reach the standard minimum wage, and their employers ignore requirements that they make up the difference, proponents of Initiative 77 have argued.

To which Council Chairman Mendelson, who is partying like it’s 1999 and not 2018, responded (boldface mine):

But Silverman wants to keep the higher base wages under Initiative 77 for tipped workers outside the restaurant industry, such as parking-lot attendants and hotel bellhops, and workers in the restaurant industry who receive tips indirectly, such as barbacks and food runners.

Mendelson dismissed the idea on Monday, suggesting that it was driven by Silverman’s “need for a win.” Silverman is running for reelection in November and is opposed by Dionne Reeder, a restaurant owner endorsed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and some in the business community.

To say, okay we’ll do it for some but not for others, I don’t see the principle behind it,” Mendelson said. “Either a tipped wage is acceptable, or a tipped wage is unacceptable.”

That is the stupidest argument I’ve yet heard for repealing Initiative 77. Arguably, if one set of workers doesn’t want to be part of the wage hike (I have doubts that they represent the majority of servers and bartenders*, but for argument’s sake, let’s say they do), fine, but why should that pay structure apply to other workers? That argument makes no sense.

By the way, the big money folks are targeting Silverman. She’s the most progressive voice–and the least corrupt too–on the Council. You can donate here.

*Who in the restaurant business, without union protection, is going to argue that their bosses are thieving shitheads?

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