The DC Abortion Fund’s Board of Directors is proud to endorse Yes on 77, a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers across all eight wards in the District of Columbia. DCAF patients face many barriers when it comes to accessing the care they need. While Initiative 77 will not eliminate all the barriers our patients face, we believe it’s an important step toward achieving true reproductive justice in our nation’s capital.
For workers in D.C., a fair, reliable wage can mean the difference between being able to afford healthcare or going without. Inconsistent or low pay affects many of our patients—particularly women of color and those working in economically underserved parts of the District.
This means they may have to make difficult decisions about their reproductive healthcare needs, such as using birth control inconsistently, or forgoing basic necessities like food, rent, or utilities in order to save up enough funds to afford the abortion and other services they need. Fair, reliable wages will also help workers support the children they already have.
We believe, if enacted, Initiative 77 would help reduce the financial barriers many DCAF patients face, as well as take an important step toward achieving full reproductive justice for people across all eight wards. Reproductive justice will not be achieved until everyone has the resources they need to create and support the families they want.
We recognize that there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue, including within our own organization and within the service industry itself, but the DCAF Board of Directors believes that voting yes will advance reproductive justice.
Editor’s Note: the post below is by Monica Weeks, Campaign Manager for One Fair Wage DC.
On June 19, 2018, all DC voters will have the chance to vote on ballot initiative 77. As President of the DC National Organization for Women and Campaign Manager of the One Fair Wage DC campaign, I am asking you to vote YES on 77 on June 19th.
One Fair Wage DC is a campaign for better wages and better tips. It calls for employers to pay their workers the full minimum wage PLUS TIPS. The campaign is led by women and people of color who live and work in the District of Columbia as tipped professionals in the restaurant industry. Ballot initiative 77 will incrementally increase the tipped minimum wage by $1.50 per year, until it reaches $15 per hour in 2025. Currently, tipped workers in DC make only $3.33 per hour with that amount increasing to only $5 per hour by 2020. We believe restaurant professionals deserve professional wages plus tips.
You might be wondering “what does this ballot initiative have to do with abortions or reproductive justice?” Women tipped workers are twice as likely to live in poverty as men in tipped occupations and they are nearly three times more likely to live in poverty than the overall workforce. Servers and bartenders in DC experience a poverty rate of 19%.
On top of that, the restaurant and hospitality industry is the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), with a rate twice that of the general workforce. That is because tipped workers have to put up with unwanted and inappropriate behavior from customers in order to make a good tip, because the customer pays their wage, not their employer. And “the customer is always right.” In DC, 92% of restaurant workers in the District report sexually harassing behavior at work.
A fair wage for tipped workers will decrease sexual harassment while also improving access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, which low-income women in DC are forced to pay for out-of-pocket. For women in DC, a fair wage can mean the difference being able to afford health care or going without.
Seven states have already eliminated the subminimum wage for tipped workers. The restaurant industry is strong in those states, demonstrating that it is economically feasible to phase out the tipped minimum wage without harming restaurant jobs or sales. Wages, including tips, are unambiguously higher in these seven states than in the other 43 states. And sexual harassment claims to the EEOC are cut in half.
With One Fair Wage, restaurants do better and workers do better. Seven states have proven that and we are hoping to make DC the first east coast municipality to make One Fair Wage a reality. Vote Yes on 77 on June 19th and stand with tipped workers as we fight for economic, racial, and gender justice.