National Consumers League

This holiday season, a present for DC's workers: Part 1

By Michell K. McIntyre, Outreach Director, Labor and Worker Rights

First in a two-part series examining the new worker protection bills just passed by DC City Council. Congratulations to all DC workers and to the advocates who helped push the Washington, DC City Council to unanimously pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 and the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act of 2013 on Tuesday, December 17th without allowing the bills to be weakened by industry-sponsored amendments. 

Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013 (click here for bill text) The bill increases the minimum wage, which is currently $8.25, to $11.50 in three steps:

  • $9.50 on July 1, 2014
  • $10.50 on July 1, 2015
  • $11.50 on July 1, 2016

Just as importantly, starting on July 1, 2017 and every July 1 thereafter, the bill requires that the minimum wage be increased to reflect changes in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index in the Washington, DC area. This will stop the real value of the minimum wage from declining over time, which is a big reason why there are numerous fights to raise it. This is a huge win for workers, and an issue that has received tremendous public attention—and support—in recent months. Hooray for this minimum wage victory! What About Tipped Workers? Although the bill does not raise the base minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers (which stands at a miserable $2.77 an hour and hopefully will be raised with other legislation), it does require that employers of tipped workers verify and certify every quarter that all of their employees do end up making at least the full minimum wage through a combination of their base wages and tips actually received. This will hopefully reduce one form of wage theft, which is common in the restaurant industry, where employees are not compensated when their tips are short for the week and don’t make up the difference between $2.77 and the full minimum wage.