Washington D.C. is in desperate need of entry-level jobs and mega retailer Wal-Mart was ready to bring hundreds of such jobs to the Nation’s Capitol. But the city council decided to force a “living wage” requirement on the company despite warnings from Wal-Mart that they’d pull out if such a law were implemented.
The new wage law is also punitive against companies such as Wal-Mart because it does not affect every company but only some companies that set up shop in Washington D.C.
As the Washington Post reports, only big box stores are required to pay the new “living wage,” a sum that is 50% higher than the current minimum wage in the District.
“Should the bill be signed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and pass a congressional review period,” the Post reports, “retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion or more and operating in spaces 75,000 square feet or larger would be required to pay employees no less than $12.50 an hour. The city’s minimum wage is $8.25, a dollar higher than the federal minimum wage.”
Wal-Mart spent three years attempting to convince the city council to allow its stores to be built in the Capitol, joining the Chamber of Commerce and launching hunger initiatives that the company paid for through its charitable organization.
But Wal-Mart executives warned that the “living wage” law was a step too far.
A majority of the council members were not moved by Wal-Mart’s warnings, however.
“The question here is a living wage; it’s not whether Wal-Mart comes or stays,” said council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), a lead backer of the legislation, who added that the city did not need to kowtow to threats. “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”
Mayor Gray still has the power to veto the bill but has not said if he will. The mayor has been a big booster of the retailer and has celebrated the many jobs the company would bring, not to mention the development of blighted areas that building new stores would entail.
For now Wal-Mart is holding to its earlier stance on the matter awaiting a move by Mayor Gray. The final decision on all sides still has room to play out, but so far it isn’t looking good for the hundreds of new jobs that could be brought to Washington D.C.