Tags: walmart | living | wage | dc

Wal-Mart: Mandated 'Living Wage' in D.C. Would Be a Dealbreaker

Wednesday, 10 Jul 2013 07:07 PM

By Clyde Hughes

Wal-Mart is threatening to pull out of plans to open stores in Washington, D.C., if the city's leaders adopt a "living wage" measure that would push minimum wages up by more than $4 an hour.

In a Washington Post op-ed "Wal-Mart: The D.C. Council has forced our hand," which was posted online Tuesday, Alex Barron, a regional general manager for Wal-Mart U.S., wrote that the council's Large Retailer Accountability Act could irreversibly harm its efforts to bring stores to the nation's capital.

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"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 column. "Unfortunately, the District may soon adopt legislation that discriminates against business and threatens to undo all that we have accomplished together."

ABC News reported that the act would force big-box stores to pay workers at least $12.50 an hour. The district's minimum wage is $8.25.

Wal-Mart told ABC News that the average wage for a full-time hourly company employee in the United States is $12.57, or $26,108 a year at 40 hours a week. However many part-time workers don't make much more than minimum wage.

Barrow complained in the column that three of the planned Wal-mart stores are already under construction and the council's action to pass the law now amounts to nothing more than a "bait-and-switch" tactic.

Elissa Silverman of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute said in a June column on the institute's website that the city's high cost of living makes it difficult for employees with families to survive on the current minimum wage.

"The council is attempting to address these concerns by requiring large retailers in the city to hire workers at D.C.’s living wage, which is currently $12.50 an hour," Silverman wrote. "Initially, the bill defined large retailers as those with 75,000 square feet or more retail space, but the legislation was changed to retailers whose gross revenue exceeds $1 billion. As the committee noted, many of the city’s large retailers already have an average wage that meets or exceeds the living wage."

ABC News said if the bill passes, Mayor Vincent Gray will have 10 days to veto it.

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