Wal-Mart has decided to pull the plug on building stores in the District of Columbia if the city council passes a law requiring large retailers to pay a higher minimum wage to employees.
According to The Washington Post
, a vote on the measure was expected sometime Wednesday. It would require retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion or more, and operating in spaces of 75,000 square feet or larger, to pay their employees no less than $12.50 an hour instead of the current $8.25 minimum wage in the nation's capital.
Alex Barron, a regional general manager for Wal-Mart U.S. said in a Washington Post op-ed piece
Tuesday that the proposed wage requirement "would clearly inject unforeseen costs into the equation that will create an uneven playing field and challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores."
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, had planned to open six stores in the district, employing up to 1,800 people.
City council members criticized the company for its hardball tactics in resisting the measure, which it has done as well in other urban centers, including Chicago and New York, where officials sought to pass similar "living-wage" laws.
"For them to now stick guns to council members' heads is unfortunate and regrettable," said Democratic Councilman Vincent Orange.
The Post noted that Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray, however, has strongly suggested that he may veto the so-called super-minimum-wage proposal, citing concerns that Wal-Mart's withdrawal could have a significant, negative economic impact on the city and its residents.
"The cancellation of three planned stores will surely set us back," he said in a statement issued by his office. "I strongly urge the Council to consider whether this legislation will actually promote strong economic development in the District and expand job opportunities for District residents."
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