D.C. Lawmakers Pass Minimum Wage Mandate Despite Walmart’s Threats To Pull Stores

Walmart’s efforts Tuesday to deter Washington D.C’s city council from passing a bill that would require certain large retailers to pay their employees at least $12.50 — a significant bump above the city’s minimum wage of $8.25 — didn’t work. Despite the big box company telling lawmakers it’d scrap plans for three stores in the area and take a close look at the three already underway, council members passed the bill by a vote of 8 to 5 yesterday.

“The question here is a living wage; it’s not whether Walmart comes or stays,” council member Vincent B. Orange, a proponent of the bill, told the Washington Post. “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

The future of the bill as law is uncertain, however, as it still needs the signature of Mayor Vincent C. Gray. He expressed some concern about what not having those stores in the area will do to the communities they were planned in, saying Tuesday he might have to veto the bill.

He’d argued that the company would bring jobs in areas where they’re sorely needed, and provide retail stores to those underserved neighborhoods as well.

“The cancellation of three planned stores will surely set us back,” he said before the vote. After it, he said again that he has “serious concerns over the lost jobs and retail opportunities for District residents that the bill will cause.”

It doesn’t appear as though Walmart will ease up on its threats, either.

“Nothing has changed from our perspective,” Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo said in a statement after the vote, saying again that those three unbuilt stores will stay that way, and that the company will  “review the financial and legal implications” of not finishing up the three others under construction.

It wouldn’t be just Walmart — the bill requires all retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion and operating in spaces 75,000 square feet or larger to pay employees no less than $12.50.

D.C. Council approves ‘living wage’ bill over Wal-Mart ultimatum [Washington Post]