DC mayor signs $15 minimum wage bill into law

- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has signed into law legislation that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Bowser signed the Fair Shot Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2016 outside of the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza in Northwest D.C. Monday evening alongside other city officials and members of the community.

This legislation will increase the hourly minimum wage to $15 for District workers by 2020. Currently, workers make $10.50 an hour and that rate will increase to $11.50 in July under legislation signed in 2014 by former Mayor Vincent Gray.

Employees working on tips would see an increased rate from $2.77 to $5 an hour. D.C. employers will remain responsible for paying their workers the difference between their base pay and the minimum wage if tips do not make up the balance.

However, some small business owners are worried about how they will be able to accommodate the pay increase. Surfy Rahman, co-owner of Indique, an Indian restaurant located in Northwest D.C., is for the minimum wage increase, but he said he is worried about how other businesses will respond.

“We have line cooks, we have servers and bussers and things like that,” said Rahman. “Some places, they may combine [duties]. The servers may have to take additional responsibilities of the bussers. My worry is that I hope it doesn’t affect the customer service.”

Rahman also said it is also likely that some businesses will likely be passing on the additional cost from the wage hike to customers.

Michael Lastoria, CEO of &pizza, a small local pizza chain, is also for wage increase.

“Fingers crossed that what happened in the District does not stay in the district, but continues to spread all across the country,” he said. “It's a simple but critical concept – allow your staff to thrive and your company will thrive.”

President Barack Obama issued a statement on the minimum wage increase in the nation’s capital:

“I commend the District of Columbia, Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the Council of the District of Columbia for raising the District's minimum wage. Since my first call to raise the wage in 2013, 18 states and D.C. have taken action - action that will help over 7 million American workers. In addition, nearly 50 cities and counties - as well as many of our leading businesses - have acted on their own to boost wages for thousands more workers.  That's progress. But we must continue to build on that progress - because no American working full-time in this country should struggle to make ends meet.  That's why as long as I hold this office, I will continue to fight for hardworking Americans. And I will keep urging Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, so that all Americans have a fair shot to get ahead. America deserves a raise.”

The DC for $15 campaign said in a statement:

"By fighting for, and winning a $15 minimum wage, 127,000 DC workers are about to receive a pay increase as a direct result of today's historic legislation. We are helping to put more money in the pockets of hard working families so it will be easier to make ends meet in a city as expensive as ours. This means that people who work for low-wage jobs are going to see their pay go up by about $140 a week or $560 a month. This is huge. It will now be a little easier for families to pay rent, put food on the table and care for their children.

When we launched our campaign over a year ago, our opponents told us that we would never win a $15 minimum wage in DC. In fact, it was just two years ago that the Council raised the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour, but stopped short of requiring the District's largest retailers to pay a higher wage. Instead of giving up, we fought on.

We took our case directly to the people of DC. By organizing across the District, we made the argument for a higher minimum wage - stating plainly that the people who work here, should be able to afford to live here.  As a direct result of our grassroots organizing, we were able to spur the Mayor and the Council to take action. Even without going to the ballot, we've demonstrated the effect that people power can have our elected officials."

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