John A. Wilson Building, home to the local government
John A. Wilson Building. Credit: Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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It was a good day on the dais for wage workers in the District.

The D.C. Council unanimously passed legislation that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour and another that would expand paid sick leave to include workers who earn tips, like waiters and bartenders.

The minimum wage bill was expected to pass, but the unanimous vote all but guarantees that it could survive any veto attempt by Mayor Vince Gray, who has said he supports boosting the minimum wage from its current rate of $8.25 an hour to $10.

The new minimum wage would hit $11.50 in 2016, incrementally increasing each year, and would then be tied to the Consumer Price Index, ultimately making D.C.’s minimum wage among the highest in the nation. Tipped workers, though, would continue to make a $2.77 minimum base wage.

The second bill passed today would mandate that all workers, including those who earn mostly tips, be offered paid sick days. This is an expansion of legislation approved in 2008, which called for near-universal paid sick time, but excluded tipped workers.

Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, who co-sponsored the legislation, called the fact that tipped workers aren’t already offered paid sick leave “atrocious.” At-Large Councilmember David Grosso said having employees in the restaurant business choose between going to work sick and making their rent is a health hazard.

The bills still need to pass a final vote by the Council, which is expected on Dec. 17, before it goes to the mayor for his signature.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery