Wal-Mart Asks DC Mayor to Veto $12.50 an Hour Wage
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Wal-Mart is saying it may pull back plans for stores in the nation’s capitol if the D.C. Council approves a measure that would boost minimum wages by nearly $5 an hour.
The so-called “living wage” through the council’s Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA), is expected to come to a vote on Wednesday.
Alex Barron, a regional general manager for Wal-Mart U.S., wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post on Tuesday with the title, “Wal-Mart: The D.C. Council has forced our hand.”
“For almost three years, Wal-Mart 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.”
A spokesman for Wal-Mart declined to comment about the expected vote and Wal-Mart’s plans. But the op-ed made it clear what Wal-Mart will do if the law is passed.
“As a result, Wal-Mart will not pursue stores at Skyland, Capitol Gateway or New York Avenue if the LRAA is passed,” Barron wrote. “What’s more, passage would also jeopardize the three stores already under construction, as we would thoroughly review the financial and legal implications of the bill on those projects.”
The LRAA is a measure that would force big-box stores like Wal-Mart to pay workers at least $12.50 an hour. The city’s minimum wage is $8.25. In the U.S., the average wage for a full-time hourly Wal-Mart associate is $12.57, according to the company. That’s $26,108 a year at 40 hours a week, or just above the federal poverty level of $23,050 for a family of four. But many part-time workers at the company make little more than the minium wage.
Whatever the D.C. council’s decision, Mayor Vincent Gray has 10 days to decide whether to veto it.
Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the country, is claiming the D.C. Council played “bait-and-switch.” Three of Wal-Mart’s six planned stores in Washington, D.C. are under construction, “with the first two expected to open this fall,” Barron wrote in the op-ed.
“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,” Barron wrote. “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.”
When Wal-Mart decided to open stores in D.C., announcing in November 2010 the initial stage of its plans, the retailer said it was committed to understanding the communities where it hopes to do business. The company has previously said it has participated in more than 200 community meetings and documented its commitment to “help stimulate economic development, expand access to affordable groceries and create quality jobs in the city.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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