December 17, 2013
Contact: NCL Communications, Ben Klein, (202) 835-3323, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, DC—Today, the National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, applauds the DC City Council for two unanimous votes that will boost workers’ pay and expand paid sick days to tipped workers.
“This is a great step, very welcome, and long overdue,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “We’re hopeful that Mayor Gray will sign the bills into law and better the lives of workers across Washington, DC. NCL thanks every member of the DC City Council for standing up for those on the lowest rung of the income ladder. You each have shown strength and resolve to do the right thing in the face of industry opposition. The DC Council has set an exemplary standard for city and state legislators around the nation.”
The two approved measures will expand the city’s 2008 law on paid sick leave to include workers whose incomes rely on tips and increase the minimum wage in the District for all other workers from $8.25 to $11.50 per hour over a three-year period.
“Consumers have spoken very clearly in overwhelming support of tipped workers who serve them at dining establishments, for improving their wages, and providing them with paid sick leave,” Greenberg said. “It’s not just a matter of compassion; it’s a matter of public health and food safety. If the proposals are ultimately signed into law,thousands of tipped workers will have the freedom to stay home to recover when they are sick, instead of coming to work and potentially infecting coworkers and customers. This is especially critical now that cold and flu season is upon us."
According to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, the gap between high-income and low-income households in the District is the third-highest among the 50 largest cities, after Atlanta and Boston. The $3.25 increase in the minimum wage, which will raise the minimum wage to $11.50, will help lift some 51,000 workers, who now struggle to make ends meet, out of poverty.
The typical minimum-wage worker is 34 years old, supports a family, and works full time. The new wage floor would mean a full-time salary of $23,920 a year, which will lift a family of three to just above the poverty level. “This is still not enough money to cover basic expenses, but it is a vast improvement of the current minimum wage,” said Michell McIntyre, NCL’s Outreach Director, Labor & Worker Rights.
Although the new minimum wage bill does not raise the tipped minimum wage (currently $2.77 an hour), Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced a measure that would make the tipped minimum wage the same as the standard minimum wage.
“We look forward to seeing both bills signed into law and working with Councilmember Cheh on a tipped minimum wage bill,” said Greenberg.
These two bills now head to Mayor Vincent Gray’s desk. He can sign the bills into law, veto the bills, which would send them back to the City Council for a councilmember vote to override the veto, or he can choose to take no action and after a set amount of time the bills will become law.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.