Two big decisions in DC will have economic impact on restaurant workers and people on Medicaid insurance.
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In the next few days, Washington, DC residents will see potential economic changes that could make life a lot easier. One is a vote on June 19th to raise the wage for restaurant workers to $15 per hour plus tips. And today (7/13/2018), there’s an opportunity to lift an abortion coverage ban that causes unnecessary hardship for DC residents.
About One Fair Wage in DC
Renee Bracey Sherman, Senior Public Affairs Manager at the National Network of Abortion Funds and DC resident says:
“Supporting people of color and their reproductive health care decision-making directly translates into making sure workers earn $15 per hour plus tips. The continuation of a two-tiered wage system is dangerous as it does not guarantee a living base wage to tipped workers, and makes planning their finances a challenge. Low wages make it difficult for them to afford food, housing, and healthcare, including contraception, prenatal care, and abortions. The ability to decide if, when, and how to become a parent is inseparable from the fight for economic justice. The majority of people who call in need of financial support for their abortions are earning low incomes. Coupled with policies like the Hyde Amendment and other restrictions, DC residents enrolled in Medicaid are unable to use their health insurance coverage for abortion care. An increase in the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 plus tips for restaurant workers makes it possible for them to be able to self-determine their reproductive lives based on what they desire, not what they can afford.”
Better wages plus tips for restaurant workers in DC is an economic justice issue. Data shows that tipped restaurant workers are nearly three times as likely to live in poverty than the rest of the workforce, and tipped workers use food stamps at 1.7 times the rate of the rest of the workforce (1). Low-wage workers in the District are the parents of over 80,000 children in the Washington metropolitan region. Increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2020 is most likely to impact single parents, especially single mothers, giving them a 20 percent raise and more economic buying power for their families (2).
Better wages plus tips for restaurant workers in DC is a racial justice issue. 47 percent of all low-wage workers in DC are Black and a quarter are Latino. Nearly 80 percent of the workers who would benefit from the increase are people of color (2). Unfortunately, tipped workers are subject to inevitable racism and sexism. Studies have found that women are tipped less than men, and Black tipped workers are tipped less than White tipped workers (3). This is how systemic racism and gender oppression to continue to flourish in Washington, DC. People of color and women working in restaurants deserve to earn a living wage of $15 per hour plus tips.
Melissa Torres-Montoya, Policy Director at the National Network of Abortion Funds:
“We oppose a two-tiered system of wages because it forces restaurant workers to depend solely on tips, rather than a standard wage plus tips, and opens them up to sexual harassment from management, customers, and their co-workers. Women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and immigrants deserve a fair shot. We urge DC residents to vote yes on 77.”
About Lifting the Abortion Coverage Ban
Every year, anti-abortion lawmakers in Congress prohibit Washington, DC from using local Medicaid funds to cover abortion. Today (7/13) at 12:00pm ET, the House Appropriations Committee plans to consider amending the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill which contains the restrictions that deny abortion coverage for DC residents enrolled in Medicaid. The bill also affects those who get coverage through a multi-state exchange plan and federal employees.
Melissa Torres-Montoya, Policy Director at the National Network of Abortion Funds says:
“The restrictions in DC are based on the Hyde Amendment, which has for too long been a racist, classist, and oppressive barrier to reproductive healthcare. Ending coverage bans and the Hyde Amendment would be a pivotal, tangible change for many people living and working in the United States and in DC. Until that happens nationwide, we need to make sure people have coverage at a local level because everyone should have comprehensive health insurance coverage no matter how they get their insurance. Our government needs to stop obstructing taxpayers who need abortions through their federal insurance. I live and work in DC, and I believe that my fellow DC residents who rely on public insurance for their healthcare deserve better. No matter the decision in DC, we hope this local effort will send a strong signal to the House that it’s time to end the Hyde Amendment, full stop.”
Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds gets to the heart of why the Hyde Amendment and related bans are such a crucial issue:
“Abortion coverage bans prevent anyone on Medicaid from accessing healthcare and denies them full control over their lives. The passionate, relentless, on the ground work of member abortion funds, their communities, allies, and those seeking abortions are essential to why Hyde is part of the political conversation today.
Whether or not folks believe in the broken U.S. political system, we are all impacted by the policies that it produces. There is far too much violence, racism and misogyny fueling the policies that impact our lives, and we need to hold our legislators accountable to the standards of justice and equality that we set. Our political problems are rooted in a cultural legacy that MUST change. It would give a huge boost of faith to know that finally our legislators are listening after 40 years. Abortion access issues go well beyond insurance and the ability to pay, but removing the Hyde Amendment will take us light years closer to where we need to be.”
- State of Tipped Workers, 2016, Restaurant Opportunity Center United http://rocunited.org/wp2015b/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/OneFairWage_SOTW_national.pdf
- Raising the DC minimum wage to $15 by 2020 would lift wages for 114,000 working people, Economic Policy Institute, May 2016http://www.epi.org/files/pdf/104915.pdf
- Lynn, M., M. Sturman, C. Ganley, E. Adams, M. Douglas, and J. McNeil. 2008. “Consumer Racial Discrimination in Tipping: A Replication and Extension.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 38, 1045–1060.