Recently, Washington D.C. councilmembers unanimously voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by the year 2020 for non-tipped hourly workers, many of whom work in the retail industry. The news comes just before Washington D.C. is scheduled to increase its minimum wage rate from $10.50 an hour to $11.50 an hour on July 1, 2016. The move makes D.C. the third jurisdiction behind California and New York to increase minimum wages to $15.00 an hour.
Under Bill B21-712, also known as the Fair Shot Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2016, wages for non-tipped workers will increase each year by approximately $0.70 until 2020 when the minimum wage rate will hit $15.00 an hour. The bill also incrementally raises wages for tipped workers from $2.50 an hour to $5.00 an hour by 2020, and provides for yearly cost of living increases after 2020. Initially proposed on April 19, 2016, by Councilmember Phil Mendelson, the bill drew criticism because it proposed to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers to $7.50 an hour. A compromise was later reached in June when an amendment to the bill lowered the increase to $5.00 an hour. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced her support of the bill on social media and has pledged to sign it.
D.C.’s plan to increase its minimum wage is part of a campaign called “Fight for $15,” which also includes Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington. The campaign affects national and big box retailers in particular, who often have multiple locations throughout the country. Retailers should keep an eye on this campaign as it may affect the wages provided to hourly retail employees on a large scale.