The Key To Saving The Washington, D.C. Restaurant Industry Post-COVID 19
The subminimum wage for tipped workers is still just $5.05 an hour in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. A direct legacy of slavery, the subminimum raises wages for a workforce of nearly 26,000 tipped workers that is 75 percent people of color, and positively impacts an overall restaurant workforce of over 41,000 workers in Washington, D.C..2 In 2018, voters in Washington, D.C. successfully passed One Fair Wage on the ballot, a re- flection of the general popularity of the issue nationwide. However, The Washington, D.C. City Council overturned the will of the people due to lobbying from the Restaurant Association.
Now the situation has completely changed. Millions of workers have left or are leaving the restaurant industry due to low wages and tips and high levels of health risks, hostility and harassment during the pandemic. Thousands of restaurants nationwide (and hundreds in Washington, D.C.) have raised their wages to attract and retain staff, greatly reducing the opposition to One Fair Wage. Washington, Washington, D.C. restaurant workers are once again collecting signatures for Initiative 82, which would require restaurants to pay a full minimum wage with tips on top.