Washington DC - One Fair Wage Hits the Streets to Celebrate International Women's Day 2022
Ryan O’leary, D.C. Organizer
Lavina Valentine, D.C. Organizer
Since the pandemic, restaurant workers have been leaving the industry in droves. Our research reveals that 53 percent of restaurant workers surveyed are considering leaving the industry, 70 percent of whom are citing low wages and tips as their primary reason for leaving, and 78 percent of workers state that the only reason they would stay in the industry is if they received a livable wage with tips on top. In response to this staffing crisis, thousands of restaurants nationwide have raised their wages to get workers to attract and retain staff, but this measure is not enough. Through state campaigns, we are focusing on raising wages for tipped workers so that the 1 million restaurant workers who have left since the onset of the pandemic can return to an industry that fairly compensates essential workers.
In the District of Colombia, the subminimum wage for tipped workers is still just $5.05 an hour. Ending the subminimum wage would positively impacts an overall restaurant workforce of over 41,000 workers in Washington, D.C. 75 percent of which are people of color.
In 2018, voters in Washington, D.C. successfully passed One Fair Wage on the ballot, a reflection of the general popularity of the issue nationwide. Yet, the Washington, D.C. District Council overturned the will of the people due to lobbying from the Restaurant Association.
Now the situation – and those in power – have 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. In this new climate, resturueant workers in the district are working to pass Initiative 82, which would require restaurants to pay a full minimum wage with tips on top in the June primary election.
The Key To Saving The Washington, D.C. Restaurant Industry Post-COVID 19
The Key to Saving the District’s Restaurant Industry Post-Covid 19
Findings from Survey Research of Restaurant Workers in the District of Columbia
Washington DC Service Workers Experience of Health & Harassment During Covid-19
Locked Out by Low Wages: DC Service Workers’ Challenges Accessing Unemployment Insurance During COVID-19.