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DC Working Families Launches Minimum Wage Ballot Initiative Campaign

New Political Organization to Put $12.50 Minimum Wage on 2014 Ballot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Joe Dinkin at 978 223 5868 or JDinkin@workingfamilies.org
or Julie Karant at 646 584 9001 or JKarant@seiu32bj.org

WASHINGTON — Leaders of DC Working Families announced a campaign today to raise Washington DC’s minimum wage to $12.50 per hour with an initiative on the November 2014 ballot. To place the initiative on the ballot, organizers will need to collect signatures from 5% of all registered voters in the District, more than 23,000 in total.

“DC’s greatest weakness is the growing gap between the rich and poor,” said Jaime Contreras, Vice President of 32BJSEIU and Director of the Union’s Capital District region. “Our city is booming for some, but we can’t build a strong economy when we leave hard-working families behind.”

Organizers expressed optimism about the upcoming campaign, and released a new poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) that found that 74% of Washington DC voters would approve a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $12.50 per hour. The poll was commissioned by DC Working Families.

In addition to raising the minimum wage to $12.50, the measure would also increase the minimum wage for tipped workers to $8.70, and tie the minimum wage to the rising cost of living, so that workers can keep up with the rising cost of living. The current minimum wage in Washington DC is only $8.25 an hour, or roughly $17,000 per year for full time work, where it’s been stuck since 2009. Tipped workers fare even worse, with a minimum wage of $2.77. Workers’ tips must make up the difference to the full minimum wage.

“It is a great shame that so many hard working families in the District are forced to survive on poverty wages,” said Rev. George Gilbert, Pastor of Holy Trinity United Baptist Church. “We are called to do better.”

The launch of DC Working Families was prompted, in part, by the failure of the City Council to override Mayor Gray on the Large Retailer Accountability Act, which would have required big box stores to pay a minimum wage of $12.50 per hour. Today, several competing minimum wage proposals are under consideration in the City Council.

“The nation’s capital should not also be the capital of inequality,” said Delvone Michael, Director of DC Working Families. “To reverse this trend requires bold measures to raise wages as a first step in creating an economy that works for all of us.”

On Election Day earlier this month, New Jersey voters approved a minimum wage increase on the ballot, with a larger share of the vote than Gov. Christie’s re-election. Twenty states and six cities have raised their minimum wage above the federal level. A new wave of campaigns to raise wages is underway in cities and states across the country, including efforts in Prince George and Montgomery Counties as well as statewide efforts in Maryland, as well as active campaigns in Chicago, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Minnesota, among others.

DC Working Families launched a few weeks ago by a coalition of labor, community and faith leaders, on the heels of a wave of electoral and policy wins by the Working Families Party in states like New York, Connecticut and Oregon. Working Families has a history of recruiting, training and electing progressive candidates to office, and winning major legislative battles on issues like raising the minimum wage, establishing workers’ right to earn paid sick days, fighting student debt, taxing the rich, and reforming drug laws that contribute to the mass incarceration of people of color.

DC Working Families is a progressive independent political organization that fights for social, racial and economic justice – and wins.

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