National Consumers League supports legislation to end the tipped wage in Montgomery County, MD

October 17, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League’s (NCL) CEO Sally Greenberg will testify today, October 17, before the Montgomery County Council in support of phasing out the tipped wage and providing all tipped workers the minimum wage.

Tipped workers in Montgomery County are scheduled to appear before the county council today to share their thoughts about Bill 35-23. The legislation would adjust the calculation of the minimum wage for tipped workers and phase something known as the tip credit amount.

NCL believes that the tipped wage is bad policy and keeps servers and other tipped workers at the mercy of customers’ whims on tipping. NCL also supported Initiative 82 in the District of Columbia which passed overwhelmingly and is being implemented.

As one Council member in DC noted, when considering phasing out the tipped wage, the current law “is an invitation [for employers] to cheat.” According to surveys here in the county, more than a third of Montgomery County workers say their tips did not bring their wages up to the minimum wage. In fact, in Montgomery County, restaurant workers are twice as likely to live in poverty.  The bill, introduced by Councilmember Will Jawando, will end the tipped minimum wage gradually over the next several years.

Greenberg’s full testimony can be found here.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)
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 nclnet.org.

 

 

 

NCL welcomes minimum wage for tipped workers in the District of Columbia

November 9, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington D.C.— The National Consumers League welcomes the decision by the voters of the District of Columbia to support Initiative 82, lifting tipped workers from the subminimum wage to a full minimum wage and to be phased in over the next five years. NCL’s founders, who wrote the first minimum wage laws in the United States at the turn of the 20th Century, is part of the One Fair Wage (OFW) movement headed by visionary Saru Jayaraman. OFW aims to do away with the subminimum tipped wage across America. That subminimum wage is a relic of post-slavery emancipation in the U.S. when African Americans were expected to work for free and get a tip if they were lucky.

Four years ago, residents of the District overwhelmingly voted to support Initiative 77 to get rid of the $5.05 tipped wage and move to the full DC-mandated minimum wage for all tipped workers. Unfortunately, in 2018, the DC Council voted 8-5 to overturn the will of the people and the law never went into effect. However, One Fair Wage and Initiative 82 backers were able to get the measure on the ballot again in 2022, and once again, the measure won by overwhelming margins. This time, DC Council members have pledged to let the ballot measure become law.

Currently, the tipped wage is $5.35. Initiative 82 affects all in DC who rely on tips to bring them up to the minimum wage, which will be $16.10 by 2027 and will apply to restaurant servers, bartenders, nail salons workers, and parking lot attendants.

Employers are required by current law to ensure that if tips don’t bring workers up to the minimum wage, they must make up the difference. Unfortunately, more often than not this doesn’t happen. As DC Councilmember Mary Cheh has noted, the current law “is an invitation to cheat.”

The statement below is attributable to Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League:

“NCL is deeply appreciative that the voters of the District have once again decided that all workers in DC are entitled to earn the same minimum wage. We hail the overwhelming popularity of Initiative 82 among DC residents and applaud the work of One Fair Wage and the organizers of Initiative 82 in getting this measure on the ballot. This is a big win for workers.

“As a former waitress, I can attest that relying on customers to tip you so that you make minimum wage is unsustainable. Many customers tip minimally, some don’t tip at all, and employers frequently don’t make up the difference. As a result, tipped workers – many of whom are women and people of color – end up with poverty wages; are subject to some of the highest rates of sexual harassment; and are unable to feed their families under the current system.

“Initiative 82 is long overdue. We need to say goodbye to the tipped wage and give all workers in the District the respect they deserve and that includes the right to earn the same minimum wage as all other workers.

“NCL looks forward to working with the DC Government and the  Attorney General’s office to see this measure implemented across the District in the coming months.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 https://nclnet.org.

National Consumers League disappointed by DC City Council’s overturning of popular vote

October 4, 2018

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) is deeply disappointed by the DC City Council’s vote to overturn a ballot measure voters approved in June to raise the minimum wage for restaurant servers and other tipped workers in the District of Columbia.

On Tuesday, the city council voted 8 to 5 in favor of repealing the measure, and now it’s up to Mayor Muriel Bowser to either veto or sign the bill. In the past, Bowser has expressed opposition to Initiative 77. The initiative requires DC businesses to eventually pay the full $15 local minimum wage to restaurant servers, bartenders, valets, and other workers who earn most of their income from customers’ tips.

“Abolishing a low minimum wage for tipped workers would give a much-needed boost to low-income families who barely earn enough to make ends meet,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. The national consumer and worker advocacy organization is headquartered in Washington, DC, where some of its staff has been involved in advocacy efforts to ensure that DC residents’ voices were heard on the issue.

Businesses in the city can currently pay tipped workers as little as $3.89 per hour as long as workers make enough money in tips to earn the full minimum wage. (The city’s regular minimum wage is currently $13.25 but will reach $15 by 2020.) If their tips aren’t enough, employers are supposed to pay the difference.

Despite being approved by voters in the June primary, the measure sparked fierce opposition from the local restaurant industry, which claimed that such a move would drive away small businesses and force restaurants to slash jobs.

Despite all the hype surrounding the potential negative impacts of Initiative 77, it’s unlikely to have drastic consequences. Based on available research, customers would likely pay a little more for their meals and tip slightly less. However, workers would see a modest income boost, which would help DC’s most vulnerable communities become less financially fragile.

“The fate of Initiative 77 represents a crucial test for the national movement to raise wages for low-wage workers,” said Greenberg. “Prospects may be bleak for this voter-approved ballot initiative, but our fight for equitable wages will continue.”

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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.