Media that empowers working people – that's how we build a More Perfect Union.

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

Ideas

Have a story to tell or idea to share?
Email [email protected]
© 2021 More Perfect Union Action

Together we can build power for working people.

We’re asking questions that really matter, and telling the stories of people who really need to be seen and heard.

You can support our work by donating today.

Amount

Make It Monthly

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

Restaurant Workers in D.C. Are Organizing To Overcome Corruption and Corporate Power

The Washington D.C. Council overturned a ballot measure that would help workers make ends meet. Now voters might pass it again.

YouTube Thumbnail

Restaurant workers in Washington D.C. could get a huge raise if voters pass a measure to end the tipped minimum wage next month. Restaurant workers ended the tipped minimum wage in Washington, D.C. four years ago via a ballot measure, but the Council overturned it after getting thousands of dollars from restaurant owners. Now, workers are trying to end the sub-minimum wage again with Initiative 82. Organizers from the campaign spoke with More Perfect Union about why ending the tipped minimum wage is a step toward a more fair and dignified life for workers in D.C. Below is a full transcript of the video.

Dia King: Why do I think they overturned it?

[News Clip]: Lawmakers in D.C. vote Tuesday on whether or not they’ll overturn Initiative 77. The voter approved measure increases the minimum wage for tipped workers.

[News Clip]: The D.C. Council is primed to undo a ballot measure passed only three weeks ago.

Dia: Because it wasn’t in the best interest of the corporations and the restaurant owners.

In 2018, D.C. voters raised the tipped minimum wage by passing Initiative 77. The D.C. Council quickly repealed it.

Brighid Milan: Last time, the voters were very clear about raising the minimum wage. And through the lobbying efforts of restaurants and corporations, the will of the voters was overturned. So please don’t do that again.

Now, organizers got it back on the ballot with Initiative 82.

Timothy Linaberry: Prop 82 is a reincarnation of Initiative 77.

Ifeoma Ezimako: Prop 82 will raise the minimum wage for temp workers while keeping their tips.

Dia: I have worked in the service industry mostly all of my life.

Brighid: I’ve been a tipped worker since 2014, so about eight years.

Dia: I was valet for like about six years.

Ifeoma: I was barbacking, hosting, serving.

Timothy: I have been a hospitality professional for almost 20 years now.

Ifeoma: As a tipped worker you receive a base pay which can be below minimum wage.

Brighid: In most places it is a legal requirement that if the difference isn’t met, you are supposed to make the regular minimum wage, but there’s not much enforcement on that.

Timothy: No one should have to work with the uncertainty of whether or not they are going to get paid.

Dia: For women, it’s like, I’ve heard them say, pull off your mask so I can see what you look like to give you a tip and things like that. You don’t want to have to subjugate yourself or not give the best service you can give just because you’re hungry for a tip.

Brighid: Everyone deserves a fair wage, first of all. Tipped workers in particular can’t necessarily rely on a steady income because tips are not necessarily steady.

Ifeoma: If you come in on a Tuesday, I mean some people party on a Tuesday, but not as much as Saturday. Put yourself in a tip worker’s shoes. Could you survive off of $2.50 an hour and rely on the drunk guy in front of you to pay your rent?

The restaurant industry spent hundreds of thousands on lawsuits trying to keep Initiative 82 off the ballot. All were dismissed.

Ifeoma: The opposition… There are false rumors being spread that, oh, this will take away tips or oh, there won’t be enough jobs, people won’t be able to pay, and those are all false because we have high road restaurants that already pay their workers $15 plus tips on top and they’ve seen more sales come in. When people are paid more, people want to work.

Dia: I believe that the powers that be, the corporations and the business owners are spinning a narrative that if you give people more money, then that’s not good. I don’t know where that comes from, but giving people more money is not a bad thing to me.

Brighid: When Initiative 77 was proposed, which was basically the same, had the same goal as [Initiative] 82 to raise the tipped minimum wage, I was serving at the time as well, and I, as well as most people I knew working in the industry were opposed to it. I realized that I had literally just been convinced by people running restaurants who obviously are disincentivized to pay me more.

Brighid: I realized that it was them convincing me I didn’t deserve this raise. The tide is turning in favor of workers. And so while this would be historic, I think it would be another step in a series of steps that are leading us to a place where workers have more power.

Dia: Vote yes on Prop 82—I need to do it with that bullhorn. I’ll probably only do it to vote yes on Prop 82.

Dia [on bullhorn]: Vote yes on Prop 82.

Brighid: Give me a raise.
Dia [on bullhorn]: 80- 80- 82. Vote yes. Yes.

Related Stories

Vote
The Ballot Initiatives to Watch in 2022
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Michigan to Vote to Whether or Not to End Tipped Minimum Wage
Read More

The Latest

YouTube Thumbnail
Elon Musk’s Firing Spree Continues: Twitter Janitors Terminated Via Text
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Four Lies Big Oil Is Feeding You To Keep Gas Prices High
Read More
Wall Street Banks Huge Profits Off Surging Credit Card Debt
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How Workers Took On A Manufacturing Giant—and Won
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Playing with Players’ Lives: How the NFL Hid a Crisis Killing Athletes
Read More
Kyrsten Sinema
Sinema’s Private Equity Donations Keep Flowing After Saving Tax Loophole
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Moderna To Raise Prices Over 400% For Vaccine That Taxpayers Helped Create
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How The Supreme Court Could Soon Destroy The Right To Strike
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Cities Are Canceling Medical Debt Thanks to Democrats’ American Rescue Plan
Read More
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Bed, Bath & Beyond’s Ex-CEO Got Rich Bankrupting the Retailer, Now Workers Stand to Lose
Read More
Rep. Virginia Foxx
Millionaire Stock Trader To Lead House Labor Committee For GOP
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Fight For $20 Comes To New York
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Inside A Trader Joe’s Union Contract Bargaining Session
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How This Billionaire Couple Stole California’s Water Supply
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
La Colombe Coffee Workers Are Unionizing
Read More
Kevin McCarthy Vowed To Take On Congressional Stock Trading. Now He’s Gone Silent.
Read More
Schumer Freezes Antitrust Bills After Big Tech Lobbyists Bundled Millions
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How Joe Biden Could Stop Shady Union-Busting Practices
Read More
Rail Workers Oust Union President Who Backed Labor Deal
Read More
Before Her Party Switch, Sinema Was Flooded With Donations From Wall Street, Private Equity
Read More