- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A D.C. Council committee on Wednesday approved a revised version of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s bill that would raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2020 but offer a smaller increase for tipped workers.

The bill remains largely the same for most workers, for whom the minimum wage would rise to $15 over the next few years, but tipped workers would see their hourly minimum increase to $5.55 by 2022, rather than the $7.50 Ms. Bowser proposed.

The mayor supported the move, saying Wednesday that passing the bill through committee was an “important step toward raising the hourly minimum wage to $15.”

“This legislation will put more money in the pockets of working families, and put more people on a pathway to the middle class,” Ms. Bowser said.

Though the change lessens the burden of restaurant owners, they are not happy that the tipped minimum wage effectively will double over the next several years.

“This compromise approach is still a catastrophe for the city’s less-skilled jobseekers,” said Michael Saltsman, research director of the Employment Policies Institute. “A recent EPI survey finds that over one-third of D.C. businesses will very likely cut staffing levels in response to a $15 minimum wage, and a similar percentage will hire mostly-skilled employees in the future whose experience already justifies the higher wage. That means the career ladder just got harder to climb.”

But council member Vince Orange, chairman of the committee that approved the legislation, said the $5.55-an-hour proposal strikes the right balance for activists who think the tipped minimum wage and the tipping system should be abolished and those who want to keep things as they are.

“At this point, we’re not willing to upset the entire [tipping] model in the District of Columbia,” Mr. Orange said at the hearing.

• Ryan M. McDermott can be reached at rmcdermott@washingtontimes.com.

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