On Tuesday, the Washington D.C. city council unanimously passed a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has agreed to sign it into law next month. The change will not apply to tipped workers.
“I see how much it costs to live in Washington, D.C., and that cost is only going up,” said Bowser, per the Associated Press. “Even at $15, it’s tough to be able to afford to live in Washington, D.C.”
California, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco have also recently passed laws to gradually increase their minimum wages to $15. The movement to raise minimum wages was led by the international movement Fight for 15.
Many D.C. businesses opposed the wage hike, arguing that business owners would cut their payrolls and eliminate jobs by replacing workers with technology if a $15 minimum were approved.
“I think it will do more harm than good, because what it does is it prices entry-level jobs away from people,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, speaking in a low-income Anacostia neighborhood in Southeast D.C. to announce an anti-poverty plan. “There are far better ways of helping economic growth.”
Some workers were upset about the bill, believing that it didn’t go far enough to help tipped workers. In D.C., employers can pay tipped workers less than $3 an hour, plus the tips they receive. According to the current law, employers must compensate their workers if they do not receive a minimum wage, but, according to a 2010 White House Study, employers often fail to pay their employees enough. Proposals to end allowing tipped workers to be paid a sub-minimum wage were rejected by the city council.
San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle all included tipped workers under their laws raising their local minimums to $15 an hour. Under the bill proposed in D.C., the tipped minimum wage will rise to $5 per hour, from its current $2.77, and later will be adjusted for inflation.
The city’s current minimum wage is $10.50 and was set to increase to $11.50 in July under a law signed in 2014 by the previous mayor. In the new bill, minimum wages would increase by about 70 cents each year until it reaches $15 in 2020. Future increases tied to inflation would also continue after 2020.