Opponents Urge Council to Void Initiative 77

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Billy Martin, center, with his team from Martin's Tavern in front of the Wilson Building. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.

Restaurateurs and tipped employees showed up at the John A. Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Avenue this morning, July 9, to urge the District Council to void the ballot approval of Initiative 77.

More than 250 managers, waiters, bartenders and others walked through the halls of the District Building to meet with Council members.

Initiative 77, the “One Fair Wage DC” proposal that would require restaurants and bars to pay all their employees, including those who get tips, a $15-an-hour minimum wage by July 15, 2020, was passed 55 to 45 percent in the June 19 D.C. primary election, which saw a turnout of only 18 percent. The initiative passed by less than 10 percent of all registered voters.

Workers from such restaurants as Tail Up Goat, the Monocle, Ivy City Smokehouse, Martin’s Tavern and Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place argued that, besides the hardship on business, the language of the initiative was confusing, said Greg Casten of Tony & Joe’s.

According to Billy Martin of Martin’s Tavern, Council Chair Phil Mendelson would be introducing legislation to void Initiative 77 before the Council’s summer break. If Mendelson does not do so, Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans would be the one to introduce the legislation, Casten said.

A vote is not expected soon. After its July 15 adjournment, the District Council reconvenes on Sept. 15.

Billy Martin, center, with his team from Martin’s Tavern in front of the Wilson Building. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.
Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, who opposes Initiative #77, speaks in front of the Wilson Building. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.
Restaurateur Billy Martin speaks to TV news crew in front of the Wilson Building. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.
Billy Martin and Ris Lacoste in front of the Wilson Building. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.
Opponents of Initiative #77 gathered in front of the Wilson Building. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.
Opponents of Initiative #77 gathered in front of the Wilson Building. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.
Opponents of Initiative #77 gathered in front of the Wilson Building. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.
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