Thursday, July 11, 2013

Walmart Threatens To Shut Down Stores If DC Passes Living Wage Bill

From Think Progress:

By Aviva Shen
on Jul 10, 2013

Walmart fought hard to persuade DC residents to let it open stores in the district. But now the retail giant is threatening to walk away from three planned sites if the DC City Council passes a “living wage” bill that would require all major employers to pay workers a minimum of $12.50 an hour.

Walmart claims that the bill, which applies to retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion or more and stores that are 75,000 square feet or larger, is “arbitrary and discriminatory.” In a Washington Post editorial, general manager Alex Barron issued an ultimatum to Mayor Vincent Gray: veto the bill, or Walmart will halt construction on stores at Skyland, Capitol Gateway, and New York Avenue.

In less than 24 hours, the corporation is already seeing results: Some council members who voted for the living wage bill are now balking. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie said he is “going to give this some thought” because he voted yes “without knowing Walmart was going to pull out.”

Walmart is accustomed to singlehandedly taking down worker rights legislation. Seven years ago, Walmart threatened to scrap its plans to open stores in Chicago after the city passed a similar living wage law. The mayor promptly vetoed the bill. In March, New York raised its minimum wage but gave tax subsidies to Walmart and other firms that hire seasonal workers. Unions claimed at the time that Walmart had influenced the deal behind the scenes.

Other large stores like Costco, Home Depot, Target, and Macy’s would also have to abide by the DC proposal. But the new $12.50 minimum would be an especially dramatic change for Walmart, which currently pays workers 28 percent less on average than other large retailers, even as it reaps profits of nearly $450 billion a year. In contrast, Costco will have no problem meeting DC’s requirement if it passes — the average Costco worker currently makes $21.96 an hour.

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See Also:

Common Dreams: Wal-Mart to DC: We'll Skip Town Before We Pay a Living Wage

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