STATEMENT: CAP’s Melissa Boteach: The D.C. City Council’s Repeal of Initiative 77 Will Especially Hurt Low-Income Workers of Color

Melissa Boteach, senior vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity Program issued the following statement after the Washington, D.C., City Council passed legislation overturning Initiative 77, a ballot measure to gradually raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour for tipped workers:

This is a sad day for democracy. Regardless of D.C. council members’ personal views on Initiative 77, the citizens of the District of Columbia overwhelmingly voted in favor of the measure back in June.

Repealing this measure sends a clear signal to D.C. voters, particularly low-income communities of color, that their votes don’t count. In an era where our democratic process is truly under threat, local legislative bodies ought to be setting an example—not defying their constituents.

While stepped-up wage theft enforcement and increased sexual harassment training are welcome steps, they are addressing the symptoms and not the root problem. When a tipped employee’s economic security is dependent on the whims of a boss or a customer, harassment and wage theft will flourish. This vote is a major setback, but it is not the final word. We will continue to advocate for a single fair wage in Washington, D.C., and across the country.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at or 202-495-3682