Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie (Ward 5) has issued the following statement regarding Initiative 77:
“As a former civil rights attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I have worked to protect the rights of some of our most vulnerable citizens. Given my experience, I do not take any potential legislative action on Initiative 77 lightly.
Overwhelmingly, when speaking directly with tipped workers, I have heard their concerns that Initiative 77 would cause more harm than good. Further, the minimum wage for District workers is already accelerating toward $15/hour, based on a 2016 law passed by the Council and which I proudly supported. This minimum wage applies to tipped workers as well, because businesses are required by law to make up the difference if an employee does not earn the minimum wage via tips.
To be clear, there are issues that need to be addressed such as wage theft, harassment, and discrimination. However, allowing Initiative 77 to become law in its current form would not result in the equitable outcomes that we must ultimately achieve.
As Chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, I will continue to support entrepreneurs who have opened and are trying to sustain small businesses, like the many that have opened across the District in recent years. Particularly as the Councilmember for Ward 5, I have seen first-hand how these small businesses have created opportunities for Ward 5 residents and families.
The introduction of the Tipped Workers Fairness Amendment Act of 2018 marks the beginning of a process that will include the opportunity for public input and further conversations about how we can support tipped workers without stifling the growth of jobs and the small businesses that are the drivers of our local economy.”