A Council committee will convene today to discuss raising the minimum wage in D.C. to $11.50 an hour by 2016.
The Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs committee will discuss a report on the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013, which recommends raising the minimum wage to $11.50 by July 2016. This would happen in three increments beginning in July 2014 with a $9.50 minimum wage. After that, the minimum wage would rise "in proportion to increases in the Consumer Price Index."
"The Committee considers income inequality to be an important metric for judging the strength of a local economy," the report says. "It is an indicator of how the lowest income residents are struggling to cope with a jurisdiction’s cost of living. The failure of the minimum wage to keep pace with the cost of living has resulted in a decrease in the purchasing power of middle- and low-income households."
Meanwhile, as the Post and AP reported, Mayor Vince Gray sent a letter to the committee recommending the minimum wage be raised to $10 immediately with no future automatic raises.
"I believe this recommended approach adds to the financial well-being of District employees, increases their purchasing power, and improves the District's overall economy," Gray wrote in the letter to the committee. "Moreover, the District's business community is in agreement with a $10.00 an hour increase and it is my understanding would support Council approval."
Gray also "strongly encourage[d]" the Council to wait on action until the city's minimum wage study is completed in April 2014.
Not included in the report or Gray's letter is a specific recommendation for a tipped worker wage hike. The committee writes that it "remains concerned about is the enforcement of the tipped wage credit paid to employees."
Bill 20-459, as introduced, proposed increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers to 70 percent of the District’s regular minimum and phased-in over a four-year period. It was the only bill of the four minimum wage bills introduced in the Council to specifically address the issue of
minimum wages for tipped employees. In testimony received by the Committee, many tipped employees opposed an increase in the tipped minimum wage rate because they thought employers would change the current tipped compensation model to one that would constrain tipped compensation. For example, restaurant owners may introduce a service charge that would discourage discretionary tipping, or they may opt to pay the regular minimum wage rate of $8.25 per hour. Most of the restaurant employees appearing before the Committee indicated they earned well above the District minimum wage rate.
A new coalition, D.C. Working Families, is pushing for a ballot initiative that would require a minimum wage of $12.50 an hour by 2017, as well as a minimum wage of $8.70 for tipped workers.