Referendum on Law Repealing Initiative 77 – Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2018


The Board of Elections, at a Special Meeting held on Friday, November 9, 2018, formulated the short title, summary statement, and legislative text of the “Referendum on Law Repealing Initiative 77 – Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2018.” Pursuant to D.C. Code § 1-1001.16 (2016 Repl.), the Board hereby publishes the aforementioned formulations as follows:


NO. 008


Referendum on Law Repealing Initiative 77 – Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2018


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 workers. Initiative 77, approved by voters in June 2018, would incrementally increase the base wage for tipped employees by 2026 to the same amount guaranteed non-tipped employees. In October 2018, the District of Columbia Council voted to repeal Initiative 77 and maintain current law. If approved, Referendum 008 would reject the Council’s repeal. Vote FOR Referendum 008 to reinstate Initiative 77. Vote AGAINST Referendum 008 to allow the Council’s repeal to become law.


Shall the registered voters of the District of Columbia approve or reject section 2 of D.C. Act 22-489?

D.C. Act 22-489 — “Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act of 2018”

“Sec. 2. The Initiative No. 77 – – Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2018, effective October 11, 2018 (D.C. Law 22-163; 65 DCR 8513), is repealed.”



Frequently Asked Questions

Who is leading the Referendum effort?
The Save Our Vote campaign committee is leading the referendum effort, with support from the tipped workers, community members, community organizations, and clergy who are infuriated at the DC Council’s decision to overturn Ballot Initiative #77.

Why did the DC Council overturn Ballot Initiative #77?
On June 18, 2018 Ballot Initiative #77 was passed by DC residents who voted in favor of giving tipped workers a fair base wage. The restaurant industry that funded DC councilmembers’ campaigns lobbied the legislators and as a result, the DC City Council voted to overturn the Initiative on October 16. Fortunately, the majority of DC voters believe that democracy is not for sale, that people’s votes matter and that they spoke clearly when they approved Ballot Initiative #77 to raise wages of workers in some of the lowest paid occupations. Therefore, the Save our Votes campaign was formed.

Do tipped workers oppose Ballot Initiative #77?
No. The majority of tipped workers – bussers, food runners, delivery drivers, valet drivers, nail salon workers, baggage handlers want a raise. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United has been working with tipped workers and high road employers across the country for years, leading the way to higher wages and better working conditions in the restaurant industry. Spreading fear and misinformation among higher paid tipped workers, the restaurant lobby has recently been mobilizing them against higher wages using the false narrative that higher wages means no tips and/or job loss.

However, those claims are misleading and the data and the real-world experiences tell a different story. The tipped wage in DC has increased without a decline in tips. There are currently 7 states with One Fair Wage for all workers, that have thriving restaurant industries with higher per capita sales revenues, higher restaurant job growth and equal or higher tipping rates than the states with a subminimum tipped wage. Tipping is part of the American culture and will not go away with a minimum wage increase.

Who is a tipped worker?
Anyone who receives more than $30 in tips per month can be considered a tipped worker by their employer, which allows the worker to be paid a sub-minimum wage. We have recently seen greedy owners recategorized their workers as tipped workers in order to pay them less. Ballot Initiative #77 will gradually eliminate the sub-minimum wage to prevent this from happening.

Nearly 70% of tipped restaurant workers are women. The sub-minimum wage for tipped workers is in effect legislated pay inequity for a predominately female workforce. This inequity is exacerbated when accounting for race and intersectional identities.

Tipped workers with a sub-minimum wage are twice as likely to live in poverty and rely on food stamps as the rest of the workforce. The restaurant industry is one of the largest growing industries in the nation, and the largest employer of minimum wage workers (1 in 12 Americans). Putting more money into the pockets of the growing number of low-income tipped workers, who will spend their additional earnings at local businesses, boosts the consumer spending that drives our nation’s economy.

What is the Tipped Minimum Wage?
Under existing law, employers are allowed to pay tipped workers a lower hourly minimum wage. Currently, the minimum wage for tipped workers in DC is $3.89 per hour. If the worker does not collect enough tips to equal DC’s prevailing minimum wage of $13.25 per hour, the employer must pay the employee the difference. That difference of $9.35 is what we call the “Tip Penalty.” The restaurant lobby refers to it as a “Tip Credit” because it is to the employer’s benefit – in that it allows them to pay their workers less. While the law requires employers to ensure everybody earns at least the full minimum wage, the Department of Labor data show that non-compliance is rampant—more than 80 percent. This complex system requires extensive tracking and accounting of tip flows, leaving tipped workers vulnerable to abuse and inaccuracy and increasing business risks and liabilities, which is another reason why One Fair Wage for all workers is the best enforcement mechanism.

For example, on a slow night a server collects only $25 in tips for 5 hours of work. Their pay for that evening would be $3.89 X 5 hours + $25 in tips = $44.45, or $8.89 per hour. With the Tipped Credit, the employer would be required to chip in an additional $4.36 per hour to the tipped employee so they end up making $66.25, which is $13.25 per hour for 5 hours. If the Tipped Credit didn’t exist, that same worker would make $13.25 per hour in wages plus $25 in tips, so if they worked 5 hours and received $25 in tips, they’d make $91.25 instead of $66.25. The Tipped Credit allows employers to pay their worker less!

What is wrong with the Tipped Credit?
The unethical two-tiered minimum wage system, which allows business owners to outsource employee wages to the whims of customers, creates and perpetuates pay inequity, economic disenfranchisement, sexual harassment and other abuses of power. Worse, tipped employees pay less into Social Security, Medicaid, and State & Federal taxes because most employers tax their low wages not their declared tips.

The restaurant industry is the single largest source of sexual harassment claims in the U.S. because tipped workers are dependent on the generosity of customers for their income, rather than their employers. As a result, they must often tolerate inappropriate behavior from customers, and are vulnerable to sexual harassment from coworkers and managers. While 7% of American women work in the restaurant industry, it is responsible for 14% of all sexual harassment claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Does Ballot Initiative #77 eliminate tipping?
NO! There is nothing in Ballot Initiative #77 about eliminating tips. Tipping is an American custom that still exists in the States that have eliminated the sub-minimum wage. Rather, restaurant owners told their employees that they’d remove the tip line on receipts and force customers to pay a service charge. A service charge is not a tip and it’s the property of the establishment. Therefore the notion of “Save Our Tips” is predicated on greedy restaurant owners preventing customers from tipping, not Ballot Initiative #77. Rather, Ballot Initiative #77 provides tipped workers with a higher base pay ($15 an hour by 2026) plus tips on top.

One Fair Wage Facts:

    • 7 states currently have “One Fair Wage,” meaning they do not have a tip credit or a sub-minimum wage. They also have thriving restaurant industries where customers continue to tip. The 7 states include: California, Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Montana, Minnesota & Nevada
    • The federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13 and has been at this rate since 1991
    • The tipped minimum wage in DC is currently $3.89
    • The full minimum wage in DC is currently $13.25

Ballot Initiative #77, proposed by Restaurant Opportunities Center-DC (ROC-DC), sought to eliminate the sub-minimum wag by slowly increase the minimum wage for tipped workers to $15/hr by 2025. An increase in the tipped wage would ensure that wages are coming directly from the employer and not subsidized by customer tips/gratuities. Although employers are required to make sure tipped workers receive the full min wage when tips don’t make up the difference, tipped workers are extremely vulnerable to wage theft, in addition to poor enforcement of the District’s current wage laws.

• On June 19, 2018, DC voters approved Ballot Initiative #77 by 56%, a wide margin of 11.5 percentage points.

• On October 16, 2018, under the pressure of restaurant industry lobbyists, 8 DC Councilmembers voted on to repeal Ballot Initiative #77. The eight DC Councilmembers who voted to repeal Ballot Initiative #77 were:

Chairman Phil Mendelson
At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso
Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans
Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd
Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray
Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White Sr.

• On October 30th, a Referendum Campaign Committee called “Save Our Vote No DC Council Repeal of Initiative 77” was formed to give DC voters the final say.

• On November 27, the Campaign will receive the Circulating Petitions from the DC Board of Elections

Overview of Referendum Process:
• Referendums can be introduced by voters to overturn nearly any law passed by the DC Council
• The Referendum Process starts when the Council Chairman transmits a DC Law to Congress for the 30 legislative day review (also known as the Congressional Review Period).
• The District’s “Home Rule Charter” requires all laws passed by the 13-member DC Council be reviewed by Congress before becoming law. (A legislative day is any day when either the House of Representatives or Senate is in session)
• The campaign must collect valid signatures from 5% of the registered voters in 5 of the 8 Wards of the District (roughly 25,000 signatures)
Once the Referendum Petition is submitted and has been certified, the Board of Elections must schedule a special election within 114 days
• In the special election, DC Voters will be asked to vote “YES” if they approve of the Referendum & Repeal of DC Council’s Repeal law or “NO” if they reject the referendum and support DC Council’s repeal of Initiative 77
• If DC voters choose YES and repeal DC Council’s law, the DC Council may not legislate on the issue for 365 days

Referendum Process

Referendums can be introduced by voters to overturn nearly any law passed by the DC Council. Ballot Initiatives, on the other hand, are entirely new laws that are initiated by voters. While they are similar in how they ultimately end up before voters, Referendums strictly refer to laws passed by the DC Council. Referendums give voters the final say on unpopular actions by the DC Council, like their tyrannical repeal of Ballot Initiative #77.

The Referendum process begins when the DC Council Chairman transmits a DC law to Congress for the 30 legislative day review period known as the Congressional Review Period. The District of Columbia’s “Home Rule Charter” requires that all laws passed by the 13-member DC Council be reviewed by Congress before becoming law. A “legislative day” is any day when either the House of Representatives or the Senate is in session. During the Congressional Review Period, Congress must pass a “joint motion of disapproval” and it must be signed by the president in order for Congress to overturn a DC law. If the law makes it through the Congressional Review Period without Congress overturning it, it becomes a DC law.

Once the DC Council Chairman has transmitted the law to Congress, advocates who disagree with the law may submit a Referendum Measure to the DC Board of Elections. The Referendum Measure must contain a title and a summary statement that explains what law the Referendum seeks to overturn. The DC Board of Elections must then approve the summary statement, title, and then draft legislative text. After these are adopted, the proposer of the Referendum Measure will receive circulating petitions that need to be signed by registered DC voters.

In order for the Referendum Measure to become a completed Referendum Petition, the campaign must collect valid signatures from 5% of the registered voters in 5 of the 8 Wards of the District of Columbia. While Ballot Initiatives must collect the same number of signatures and get 180 calendar days to collect them, a Referendum Measure has only until 5:00pm the day before the Congressional Review Period expires to collect the roughly 25,000 valid signatures needed to complete the Referendum Petition.

Once the Referendum Petition is submitted to the DC Board of Elections and it has been certified to have a sufficient number of valid signatures, the Board must schedule a special election within 114 days or if there is a previously scheduled election taking place between 54 and 114 days, then the Referendum will be placed before voters at that election.

However, there are no elections scheduled in the District of Columbia in 2019, so the Referendum to overturn the DC Council’s repeal of Ballot Initiative #77 will take place at a special election in 2019. At the special election, DC voters will be asked to vote YES if they approve the DC Council’s law or NO if they reject the DC Council’s repeal of Ballot Initiative #77. If the majority of DC voters choose NO and reject the DC Council’s law, the DC Council may not legislate on the issue for 365 days.

On October 30, the DC Council Chairman transferred the “Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act of 2018” to Congress and started the Congressional Review Period. Section 2 of this law repeals Ballot Initiative #77. The Save Our Vote campaign has submitted the Referendum Measure to the DC Board of Elections that will ask DC voters to overturn Section 2. The campaign and will soon receive the circulating petitions.

Please sign up to help the campaign at

Citizens Form “Save Our Vote” Referendum Campaign Committee to Reinstate Initiative 77

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Josh Glasstetter

Citizens Form “Save Our Vote” Referendum Campaign Committee to Reinstate Initiative 77

In response to DC Council’s repeal of Initiative 77, tipped workers and advocates are organizing to return power to the voters

WASHINGTON – Today, a coalition of workers, clergy, voting rights advocates and concerned DC citizens gathered outside the DC Office of Campaign Finance to announce the formation of a special political committee to overturn DC Council’s undemocratic repeal of ballot initiative 77.

“We are not going to let DC Council overturn our election victory for workers quietly,” said Dia King, tipped worker and chair of the newly formed Save Our Vote No Repeal of Initiative 77 committee.

On June 19, 2018, 56 percent of DC voters put an end to the “separate but equal” wage structure and joined seven other states by approving One Fair Wage – gradually raising the subminimum tipped wage to the full minimum wage. On October 16, by an 8-5 vote, DC Council overturned the will of the voters.

“DC Councilmembers disrespected their constituents by prioritizing business interest groups and trade lobbies at the expense of women, immigrants and people of color who are disproportionately affected by the subminimum tipped wages,” King added.

“Our referendum asks voters to say NO to Council’s repeal of Initiative 77. We must return to the path that will take us to $15 per hour for all workers by 2026. We welcome all voting rights activists and workers to join our campaign to defend democracy in the District of Columbia,” said Save Our Vote No Repeal of Initiative 77 campaign director Reverend Graylan Hagler.

“We cannot sit back and let Council treat DC voters like they don’t exist,” said campaign treasurer Trupti Patel.

The rarely used, but effective, process of using a referendum to overturn the legislature balances the power of elected officials with their constituents and helps keep them accountable. Since 1974, when the DC Charter was amended to allow for the referendum process, three referenda challenging DC Council legislation have appeared on the ballot.

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Get Involved!

On December 12, 2018, the campaign stopped hiring petition circulators.

The Campaign is hiring Petition Circulators to assist in getting the Referendum on the Ballot.

This is a temporary contract job. We anticipate the signature collection effort to begin on Tuesday, November 27 and end Thursday, December 13.

Petition Circulators must at least 18 years of age and either be a resident of the District of Columbia or be registered with the DC Board of Elections as a Non-Resident Petition Circulator.

Please read the Campaign’s Personnel Policies & Code of Conduct, fill out the Google Form, and a representative from the Campaign will reach out to you.

If you have any questions, please email

The “Save Our Vote No DC Council Repeal of Initiative 77” campaign (aka “Save Our Vote” campaign or SOV) only pays for valid signatures that will be accepted by the DC Board of Elections at the date of signing. This means only registered Washington, DC voters may sign the petition. Unregistered voters will not be counted as valid and cannot be registered to sign on the same day. SOV will check 100% of signatures turned in every other day and provide a report and payment Monday to Monday. A list of invalids will be provided to collectors upon request. Collectors may use paper petitions or the Board of Election’s digital tablets, which feature auto-validation.



Petition Circulators: $3.75 – Per Valid Signature


$100 Bonus for 250 or more valid signatures turned in a week.
$100 Bonus for 350 or more valid signatures turned in a week.
$100 Bonus for 450 or more valid signatures turned in a week.
$100 Bonus for 550 or more valid signatures turned in a week.


Petition Circulators are expected to collect at least 40 valid signatures per 7 hours of work and maintain a valid signature rate of 35% or better. Petition Circulators will need to wear neat street clothing, and work outdoors in all-weather conditions collecting signatures. It’s a winter time collection so there will be more door to door work required. There is a lot of walking or standing required. Candidates are outgoing enough to ask strangers if they are a DC Registered Voter and if they will sign the petition to Save Our Vote on Initiative 77 from being overturned by the DC Council.


Non-DC residents will need to have a valid ID from out of state taken to the DCBOE at 1015 Half Street SE Washington, DC, Suite 750 to become qualified signature collectors. The position is available to US citizens only. Transportation inside Washington, DC is reimbursable for Full-Time and Part-Time collectors.


Personnel Policies & Code of Conduct

Non-discrimination Policy
The “Save Our Vote No DC Council Repeal of Initiative 77” Campaign Committee and subsequent petition canvass, (henceforth referred to as “SOV”) is an equal-opportunity employer. SOV is committed to the belief that each individual is entitled to equal employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical attribute, age, marital status or disability.

Freedom From Harassment Policy
SOV supports building unity between all people. We believe in treating one another with respect. We believe that how we treat one another should model the type of society we are trying to build.

SOV prohibits harassment of petition circulators by other circulators, supervisors or third parties for reasons that include but are not limited to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability or any other status protected by applicable law. Homophobic, sexist or racist attitudes, behaviors, comments or jokes are unacceptable at all times.

If a petition circulator behaves in a way that violates these policies and principles, it can be grounds for termination and withholding of payment.

Participation Policy
SOV petition circulators should engage in active and respectful participation in trainings and team meetings. Participation in these meetings is required, and failure or refusal to do so is grounds for a warning. Continued inability or refusal to positively engage in SOV meetings and trainings is grounds for termination.

SOV is operating a clean, public petition campaign. Petition circulators are expected to honestly and publicly collect signatures from registered voters in the District of Columbia on the issue specifically stated on the petition. Any petition circulator found collecting fraudulent signatures or found collecting signatures under false pretense will be terminated. If termination results from fraudulent means, all previous signatures collected by said petition circulator are subject to investigation and payroll may be withheld until completion of the investigation.

By accepting the contract position as a petition circulator, you agree to keep all Save our Votes campaign materials and strategy strictly confidential. You agree not use, disseminate, copy or store any materials associated with this campaign, in any form or format, to any person or entity outside of this campaign. This requires keeping all contact information, work plans, emails, and other documents secure while in your possession and not publishing or posting content to any website or listserve. etc. Any use of campaign materials must be authorized in writing in advance by the Field Director. Upon the end of your employment with this campaign, you must return all materials obtained from the campaign to campaign headquarters and delete all electronic files. Failure to comply with this confidentiality agreement may result in legal action.

Attendance Policy
SOV is building a team of highly effective and reliable petition circulators to achieve the goals of the organization.

Dress Code
Petition circulators are the face of SOV, and are encouraged to dress and appear in a manner that reflects positively on the organization and helps move forward the mission of the organization. Petition circulators are not required to wear a SOV uniform; however, petition circulators are not permitted to wear or display any political, inappropriate, or corporate logos (in an advertising manner) during petition circulating.

Petition circulators must come to work in clean attire and exhibit good personal hygiene. Attire is at the discretion of the petition circulator, but SOV reserves the right to assess the appearance of petition circulators. If clothing fails to meet the SOV standards, as determined by the petition circulator coordinator, the petition circulator will be asked to change clothes.

If you understand and accept the terms of the personnel policies as a contractor of the Save Our Vote No DC Council Repeal of Initiative 77 campaign please fill out this Google Form:

After you fill out the form above, a member of the Campaign will reach out to you by phone or email. When you show up to the Campaign Office, you will need to:

1) Bring Proof of DC residence (Your unexpired DC ID) or if you live outside of Washington, DC you’ll need to bring proof you have completed the Non-Resident Petition Circulator Form from the DC Board of Elections. Non-Resident Petition Circulators will need to go to the DC Board of Elections FIRST, fill out the form, and provide the Campaign the carbon copy from the DC Board of Elections.
2) Complete a W-9 Form so the campaign can pay you
3) Be trained on the Petition Circulator best practices
4) Schedule your Time & Date of your first petition collection

If you have any questions, please email