Initiative 77 is an initiative that was approved by Washington, D.C. voters in a 55.14% majority vote. The point of this initiative is to make up the difference between tip-pay and minimum wage for tipped employees if the employee does not earn the hourly minimum wage. This initiative has the potential to make a significant impact, as the minimum wage for tipped employees in Washington D.C. is currently $3.33—well below the standard minimum wage in the district of $13.25 for all employees.
This initiative would affect occupations such as barbers, hairdressers, bellhops, restaurant wait staff, bartenders, nail stylists, and more. It would make them less dependent on the fluctuating tips that they receive, and instead could elevate their pay to the baseline minimum wage like non-tipped employees.
Initiative 77 establishes a plan to gradually increase the minimum wage requirements on an annual basis for tipped employees. This increase occurs on July 1st of every year until 2025. By this initiative, by July 1, 2026, the separate tipped minimum wage will be completely dismantled. Thus, the hourly minimum wage will be the same rate as non-tipped employees. By 2026, it is in place that the hourly minimum wage for tipped employees will reach that of all other non-tip reliant employees.
Although this measure was approved by voters, it still has to pass through a thirty-day review required by the United States Congress. This convention raises the question of whether the Initiative would start on the day it was scheduled to—July 1—or, whether it would take more time to pass, requiring the date to potentially require reevaluation.
This initiative, however, has been met with opposition from external entities, such as The Washington Post, Mayor Muriel Bowser, and numerous restaurant owners. It has also been reported that several D.C. council member opposes the Initiative. Under the D.C. Home Rule Act, however, Congress can block implementation of the initiative even though it has been approved by the vote.
If Washington approves this Initiative, it will be the eighth major jurisdiction to prohibit a separate tipped minimum wage. This will place Washington, D.C. among California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Montana, and Minnesota in this practice.