District Council Votes for Big Minimum-Wage Raise

The D.C. Council unanimously passed a bill to hike the city’s minimum wage. On Dec. 3, the 13-member council voted to increase it to $11.50 an hour by 2016; this would be one of the highest minimum wages in the country and much greater than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

The bill, called the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013, would work gradually, raising the wage to $9.50 on July 1, 2014, to $10.15 on July 1, 2015, and to $11.50 on July 1, 2016.

Lawmakers recently approved similar minimum wage boosts in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland. These counties aim to raise minimum wage in increments, ending in 2017.

One more vote is required before the D.C. bill falls into Mayor Vincent Gray’s hands. Gray has voiced his opposition, desiring a smaller increase to $10 an hour. "The bill, in its current form, will harm District's regional competitiveness," Gray wrote in a letter to the council.

Gray already voted against particular minimum wages increases earlier this year. In September, he vetoed the Large Retailer Accountability Act -– or “Walmart Bill” –that would have forced large retailers to pay employees a minimum of $12.50 an hour. The Walmart Bill, according to Gray, was “not a true living-wage measure.”

With unanimous support within the council, however, the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013 could move forward without Gray’s approval. The council only needs nine votes to override a veto from Gray.

In a related measure, the D.C. Council also voted unanimously to require tipped workers five days of forgiven sick time. Council members believe this will provide more job security for these workers, and will keep sick employees away from the restaurant environment.

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