Walmart would be forced to pay a “living wage” in Washington, D.C. if a new municipal “super minimum wage” law is finalized. I hate shopping at Walmart and all of the cheap foreign made junk they offer the consumers in America—but I loathe government overreach even more. The powers that be on the DC city council want to force companies with operating spaces comprised of at least 75,000 square feet with a minimum of $1 billion in sales to pay workers at least $12.50 per hour. The Washington, D.C. city minimum wage is $8.25 per hour.
The DC super minimum wage law could also impact Costco, Macy’s, Target, and Home Depot, among other major retail employers. Walmart informed local lawmakers just 24 hours before the planned vote on the super minimum wage resolution that the three planned store openings in the city would not occur if the proposal passed.
Minimum wage laws should be applied equally to all businesses. The Washington, D.C. super minimum wage law will only result in restricted hiring, layoffs of current employees, and the inability to attract much needed new business to the city. In typical liberal fashion, the Democrats on the DC council lurched forward with a half-baked idea without considering the consequences. Silly me, to think that the “life should be fair” crowd would behave in an evenly remotely fiscally responsibly manner.
A super minimum wage grandfather period would apply to some existing retailers and an exception would also be granted for companies with unionized workers. The subjectively applied law essentially penalizes non-union businesses—a favorite target of liberals. I worked at a school district for about a decade. Thanks to the union, my slacker peers received the same raises as those of us who were dedicated workers. Since working for non-union companies the past eight years, I am paid for my performance, a much more viable and lucrative way to earn a living in my opinion.
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Approximately seven years ago the Chicago City Council attempted to pass a similar measure. The first Walmart planned in an urban inner-city area was almost scrapped, taking much needed jobs with it. Executives from the big box company threatened to either scale back or kill the store opening plans if the living wage law garnered approval. Then-mayor, Richard M. Daley, opted to veto the bill and city council members decided not to try and override the job-costing failure of a resolution.
DC Democrat Mayor Vincent C. Gray is considering vetoing the bill after an ultimatum by Walmart, which he deemed “discouraging.” Gray is also reportedly attempting to decide whether or not to run for re-election. Mayor Gray has 10 days to decide if he wants to veto the bill after the city council vote. A vote on the super minimum wage law was held on July 10 and the council voted 8-5 to approve living wage law.
Washington, D.C. officials only permitted Walmart to move into the area and offer job opportunities after the company jumped through a series of hoops, according to Think Progress. Walmart entered into a Community Partnership Initiative which included a promise to donate $21 million to local non-profits, put local products on the shelves, provide space for local retailers, commit funding for transportation measures, and craft a citywide work training program for “at-risk” and low-income citizens. DC did not exactly roll out the welcome mat for the job creator. Where I live, when a company wants to open a business, they simply buy property and open their doors—and everyone says thank you for the jobs.
An excerpt from an op-ed written by Walmart Regional General Manager Alex Barron published by the Washington Post reads:
For almost three years, Walmart has worked on a plan to bring new stores to Washington, and we are close to opening our first location in the city,” Barron wrote in the two-page op-ed. “Unfortunately, the District may soon adopt legislation that discriminates against business and threatens to undo all that we have accomplished together. As a result, Walmart will not pursue stores at Skyland, Capitol Gateway, or New York Avenue if LRAA is passed.
Barron went on to state that if the living wage law is passed, three stores already in the construction phase could be jeopardized. The average full-time Walmart employee makes about $25,000 per year, according to an ABC News report. How far such an annual income goes depends largely upon where the worker lives. In a rural area, it would not be too bad. There is currently no Walmart within about a 9-mile radius of Washington, D.C. A less than 10-mile drive to purchase cheap groceries or the must-have toy at the top of a child’s Christmas list, would be considered extremely close for rural and suburban residents.
DC has perhaps the highest poverty and unemployment rate in the United States. A company offering to hire hundreds of residents, moving them from taxpayer-funded entitlement programs and into the work force should be heralded by the city council, but sadly their misguided intrusion into the marketplace will further diminish work opportunities in the urban center.
Walmart staffer Alex Barron also had this to say in the op-ed about the angst brewing between local officials and the chain store:
“But despite the consensus among D.C. stakeholders about the economic value that our stores would bring, some members of the D.C. Council are advancing an eleventh-hour effort to try to undermine our efforts and change the way businesses like Wal-Mart must operate in the city. New legislation — the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) — would require that a few large employers pay a starting rate that is more than $5 per hour above the minimum wage.”
Walmart has reportedly been working on its store opening plans since the fall of 2010. The company is the top employer in the United States, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report. Walmart representatives also recently stated the company was committed to understanding communities where it plans to do business and had participated in excess of 200 local meetings to discuss its commitment to “help stimulate” economic development in the DC area.
What do you think about the Washington, D.C. living wage law and threat to pull stores by Walmart?