Today you may encounter petitioners looking for your signature. The ‘Save Our Vote’ campaign led by Restaurant Opportunities Center United, Adam Eidinger, and Rev. Graylan Hagler were given the green light to forge ahead with their referendum to repeal the repeal of Initiative 77—despite a legal challenge from a D.C. bartender last week that sought to delay the process.
Attorney Andrew Kline, who represents plaintiff Valerie Graham, filed the lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court. It argued first that the language on the petition was misleading and second that organizers committed several procedural errors such as failing to give proper notice for the public to comment on the referendum, which is being called Referendum 8.
A judge held an emergency hearing on Tuesday to revise the language of the summary statement that will appear on the petition, and potentially on the ballot if organizers are able to collect the required 25,000 signatures from registered D.C. voters. But another delay could come next week when a second hearing will take place on the other counts of Graham’s lawsuit. The judge is allowing petitioners to collect signatures in the meantime.
Initiative 77 sought to eliminate the tip credit, which allows employers to pay tipped workers $3.89 per hour instead of the standard minimum wage of $13.25 per hour. If tips do not carry a tipped worker over the standard minimum wage, employers are required by law to make up the difference. Graham’s lawsuit argued the petition language didn’t make it clear enough that employers are already on the hook for minimum wage.
The language now includes the following statement: “Under current law, employers may pay tipped employees lower base hourly wages if the total received in wages and tips equals or exceeds the minimum wage for non-tipped employees.”
Supporters of Initiative 77 argued that the measure would reduce wage theft and decrease sexual harassment and racial disparities in the workplace. Opponents responded that such a measure would force some establishments to close because of increased labor costs and would ultimately reduce take-home pay for tipped workers. Voters passed the measure. But then the D.C. Council overturned the vote.
Catch up on some of City Paper’s Initiative 77 coverage: