Washington, D.C.'s fair-wage skirmish with corporate giant Wal-Mart is garnering national attention, as activists in other cities see similar ways to limit the power of big-box stores in their communities.
After the D.C. City Council passed a "living wage" bill that focused on retailers who have fallen under scrutiny for paying workers low wages, some urban leaders around the country think it will embolden other cities to follow suit, reports Politico
"I do think this is a national thing — you're going to see more and more cities use this strategy and tactic to combat this," former ACORN head Bertha Lewis said. "Wal-Mart has an urban plan, so they have to get into the inner city and they have targeted neighborhoods of color, poor neighborhoods."
D.C. leaders pushed back on the anti-union retailer by passing the Large Retailer Accountability Act. Under that law, which the mayor still could veto, retailers that occupy more than 75,000 square feet and have sales of more than $1 billion annually must pay workers starting wage of $12.50, far above the city's minimum wage of $8.25.
Since its passage, Wal-Mart, which sought to open three of its stores near the nation's capital, has canceled its expansion plans in the city, spokesman Steven Restivo told Politico.
Urban activists, however, are praising D.C. leaders for taking a principled stand for fairer wages.
"What we're seeing in D.C., it's great," Aiha Nguyen, a director at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, told Politico.
Her group joined a Los Angeles coalition that has sued the city over Wal-Mart's expansion plans in the historic Chinatown neighborhood.
"All over the country, local areas are saying, 'We're going to fight back because we feel like we deserve more,'" Nguyen added.
Said Damon Silvers, the director of policy and special counsel at the AFL-CIO: "This is the capital city of the United States, and if it chooses to do something, people will notice."
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