The economic ignorance of these people is hard to fathom. By “ensuring a living wage” that’s 50% higher than the federal mandate, they ensured that Walmart and other big box retailers don’t set up shop in the district. So long jobs – who need’s ’em when you’ve got the government to fill the gap? Those six Walmart stores would have provided jobs for about 1,500 people.
D.C. lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to a bill requiring some large retailers to pay their employees a 50 percent premium over the city’s minimum wage, a day after Wal-Mart warned that the law would jeopardize its plans in the city.
The retail giant had linked the future of at least three planned stores in the District to the proposal. But its ultimatum did not change any legislators’ minds. The 8 to 5 roll call matched the outcome of an earlier vote on the matter, taken before Wal-Mart’s warning.
If signed by the mayor, the D.C. Council measure would require retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion or more and operating in spaces 75,000 square feet or larger to pay their employees no less than $12.50 an hour. The city’s minimum wage is $8.25.
“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.”
Whether or not Wal-Mart needs the District, it had spent the past three years wanting to enter the city in a way no other business had. Activists celebrated Wednesday’s vote, saying the company, which reported net income of $17 billion on sales of $470 billion in its most recent fiscal year, could afford to pay better wages. But the council action threatens to halt several developments anchored by Wal-Mart in neighborhoods long underserved.
“Nothing has changed from our perspective,” Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo said in a statement after the vote, reiterating that the company will abandon plans for three unbuilt stores and “review the financial and legal implications” of not opening three others under construction.