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Gray Signs Bill Increasing D.C. Minimum Wage To $11.50 By 2016

Increases also on tap for Montgomery, Prince George's County

By 2017, D.C. and Montgomery and Prince George's counties will all pay a minimum wage of $11.50.
By 2017, D.C. and Montgomery and Prince George's counties will all pay a minimum wage of $11.50.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has signed a bill raising the city's minimum wage to $11.50 by 2016.

The bill, which was unanimously passed by the D.C. Council in late November, comes amid a growing national debate over the minimum wage.

Facing the prospects of Congress not moving to increase the federal minimum of $7.25 — D.C. law puts the city's wage at $1 above the federal standard — D.C. legislators joined forces with their counterparts in Montgomery and Prince George's counties to implement a regional increase.

Under the provisions of the bill, the minimum wage will rise from $8.25 to $9.50 this year, increase to $10.50 in 2015 and hit the $11.50 mark in 2016. After that, it will be indexed to inflation. In Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the increase will be stretched out until 2017.

Gray had originally favored an increase to $10 and opposed indexing the wage to inflation, but with all 13 members of the Council backing the bill, any veto could easily have been overridden.

Debate over raising the city's minimum wage started last summer when the Council passed a bill mandating that certain large retailers — including Walmart — pay employees $12.50 an hour. Gray vetoed that bill, and the Council was unable to overcome it. In the wake of the bill's death, legislators introduced various minimum wage increase proposals; $11.50 emerged as a compromise.

A statement released today by the head of the local AFL-CIO, Jos Williams, applauded lawmakers in D.C. and Prince George's and Montgomery counties for working together to pass legislation raising wages. Williams says more than 150,000 area workers will see an increase in their salary.

The bill in D.C. does not include a wage hike for tipped workers, such as bartenders or waiters who makes less then $3 an hour before tips are included. But the Council, in a separate action, approved a bill mandating paid sick days for these workers who had been exempted from the 2008 paid sick leave legislation.


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