Impoverished neighborhoods in Washington DC need jobs. Walmart decided it would provide some, by building six stores. The DC city council today approved a law ordering Walmart to pay a “living wage” well above the minimum wage.
The D.C. Council voted to approve a living wage bill that will increase the minimum wage to $12.50 for employees of large retailers in the city.
…large non-union retailers… Not all large retailers.
Wednesday’s 8-5 vote could determine the fate of Walmarts in the District.
Walmart, Inc. threatened Tuesday to pull out of the city if the minimum wage increased. The retailer is reconsidering its plans to construct stores at Skyland, Capitol Gateway and New York Avenue.
“I hope Walmart keeps their word and comes to Skyland. Don’t use this as an excuse,” said Council member Jack Evans during the hearing. “Walmart never wanted to come to Skyland.”
Walmart also said its three stores under construction in D.C. might be delayed. A spokesperson told News4’s Mark Segraves the city “moved the goalpost” by changing the minimum wage.
The company is now considering legal action against the city.
The DC law explicitly exempts unionized retailers — Walmart isn’t unionized. Big Labor has tried to force unionization on the retailer for years. The city’s law is unfair and arbitrary.
DC Mayor Vincent Gray is against the law, and the vote margin allows him the possibility of vetoing it.
As things stand now, Walmart will build, at most, half the stores it wanted to build in DC, therefore providing half the jobs it was set to provide in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. It may not build any stores in DC at all. The council explicitly put Big Labor’s interests ahead of the needs of its own voters.