Monday, 10 Dec 2018
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The 77 supporters of the initiative are scrambling to collect signatures to postpone the pay rise on the ballot


Activists are scrambling to gather the thousands of signatures needed to revive a law approved by voters but canceled by the SDC council, which would change the way in which servers, bartenders and other district employees are compensated. In June, voters approved initiative 77 to phase out a two-tiered minimum wage system that allows employers to count the bonuses when they pay their employees. A few months later, the council of the Dc canceled the initiative. Now the advocates are trying to hold a referendum vote on council action – basically asking voters to repeal the repeal. But a combination of procedural rules, court challenges and bad timing left supporters of the referendum a week to collect about 25,000 signatures needed to put the question back on the vote. If they can collect enough signatures, the city will hold special elections early next year. The leaders of the Save Our Vote coalition have deployed more than 100 signature collectors outside supermarkets, government buildings, bars and even dog parks to carry out a seemingly insurmountable task. They pay the circulators 3.75 dollars the signature with the possibility of more, quadruple the standard rate. Since Thursday, workers are working 24 hours a day in a house in northwestern Mexico to verify that the signatures belong to registered voters. Restaurant Opportunities Center Action, the lobby group that is working to end the state-of-the-art pay system across the country, has budgeted $ 200,000 for signature collection.
WASHINGTON, DC: A group of about 20 clergy and activists held a sit-in on Thursday, September 27, 2018 in the office of the President of the Republic, Phil Mendelson (D), to protest the Repeal of Initiative 77, which voters approved in June. to raise wages for the exhausted workers. (Fenit Nirappil / TWP)[[[[Learn more about DC tipping and its consequences for meals]But the supporters of the referendum recognize that they have work to do. Similar efforts to collect signatures in the district took weeks or even months. Others who ended up at a breakneck pace proved to be victims of fraud. "The system is in place against the democratic process," said Reverend Graylan Hagler, anti-poverty activist and spokesperson for Save Our Vote. "It's unfair, it's discouraging, but the reality is that the city has put this system in place so that it does not discourage voters." DC's law enforces strict rules for holding referendum votes advice. approved legislation. No referendum has been held since 1991. Referendum supporters must collect the required signatures during the 30-day congressional review period for all applicable laws. This period may vary depending on the conference schedule. For the repeal of Initiative 77, the review period is scheduled to end on Thursday before the suspension of the federal legislature's work. In addition, election officers must give the public at least 10 days to comment on the proposed wording for petitions requesting that the referendum be recorded on the ballot. The electoral council was to approve the petitions once this period ended on 27 November. But a bartender, represented by a lawyer from the local restaurant association, has taken legal action against the referendum efforts, preventing signature collectors from receiving petitions until Tuesday night. Next Tuesday, both parties must appear in court to consider other issues related to the referendum efforts. The deadline is to submit the signatures is Wednesday. Proponents of the referendum discuss ways to obtain an extension, including asking a judge to count the days lost due to court challenges and the referendum process of the city. "It's a crazy pressure. Nowhere in the country are the referendums subject to this kind of schedule, "said Adam Eidinger, a marijuana activist who volunteered to lead the signature collection efforts to rescue Initiative 77. He orchestrated a successful voting measure in 2014 to legalize the pot in small quantities. took nine weeks to collect enough valid signatures. A townhouse located near the South Korean Embassy in Kalorama – formerly used as the headquarters of marijuana legalization efforts – is the new war room for referendum efforts on wages. On Friday morning, seven workers sitting in front of laptops checked stacks of petitions to make sure the names and addresses matched those in the city's voter register. Empty boxes of Domino's pizza had landed in a corner. A pamphlet explaining what should be done and not doing the collection of signatures warned against arguments with the opponents of the initiative 77: "They make us waste our time and we do not have to do it. we do not have enough. " The workers checked more than 4,500 signatures on Friday morning – about a fifth of what they needed. Eric Butler manages the signature verification for the referendum after playing a similar role for other initiatives. Initiative 77 is a personal affair for him since he tipped his occasional job of delivering pizza and found the difference when he was living in California, where employers have to pay a standard minimum wage at all. Hourly workers, whether or not they get tips. "The story is that they will withdraw tips if you get the minimum wage, but tips are our culture," said Butler, a 34-year-old Michigan Park resident. The Initiative 77 saga sparked a debate about the culture of changeover and the better remuneration of workers. Supporters say hourly workers in the service sector should not have to rely on tips to survive. The current law requires employers to pay them at least $ 3.89 per hour. If, after tips, they earn less than the standard minimum wage of $ 12.50 an hour, employers are supposed to close the gap – but some do not, the advocates say. Initiative 77 would gradually increase the hourly wage of rocking workers to $ 15 by 2025, so that there is a standard wage in the city for all hourly workers. If the policy is adopted, the district will join seven states that require employers to pay a standard minimum wage. Restaurant owners – and hundreds of workers who earn above the standard minimum wage because of good tips – say the current system works well because it allows businesses to survive in a low-profit sector. "We will just continue to stand alongside our local operators and workers to preserve what is in place, which is the repeal of a very bad law," said Kathy Hollinger, who heads the Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Association and began lobbying council members Initiative 77 also sparked a debate on democracy: many residents on both sides are angry at elected legislators that overturned the will of voters. In June, voters approved Initiative 77 at a margin of 56% to 44%. The repeal of the law also seemed hypocritical to some, as local lawmakers howl when Congress uses its power to overturn the laws and spending decisions made by the Council of the DC. Legislators who voted 8 to 5 to repeal in October said that it was in the interest of protecting businesses, workers and customers. Saru Jayuraman, who runs the Restaurant Opportunities Center, predicted that voters' anger for the repeal of a voting initiative would help his group defy the odds and qualify a referendum. "People really feel that it's total voter nullity," Jayuraman said. "People feel very motivated to have the opportunity to cancel the abrogation of the council."

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