Despite a last ditch effort by Wal-Mart to detail DC’S proposed “Large Retail Accountability Act”, DC Council voted 8-5 to pass the bill that would require certain retailers to pay $12.50 an hour, a 50 percent increase above the city’s minimum wage.?Wal-Mart threatened to pull out all development plans on three stores, and to stop construction on three other stores that has already begun, a move Council Member Marion Barry called, “A stick up without a gun”.
Respect DC,?coalition of grassroots-based organizations, pastors, workers, environmentalists, parents, students and community members fighting for fair jobs in DC, has organized for almost three years for fair wages to be required of large retailers like Wal-Mart.
Organizer Mike Wilson says of Wal-Mart’s attempts to stop the bill, “We’re not going to be bullied into poverty wages by Wal-Mart. They promised that us for years that they would pay new hires $13 per hour. They have repeatedly stated that their average pay is $12.39. Now they say $12.50 would break them. This shows that Wal-Mart is more interested in maintaining poverty wages than taking advantage of DC’s customer base, and that’s their decision.”
Wal-Mart, a company known for being notoriously anti-union and anti-regulation, could easily pay workers the living wage mandated by the bill, but in this campaign has shown that their priority is to maintain power over workers and community.
It is unclear at this point if Mayor Vincent Gray will veto the bill or not. If he does, the council requires 2/3 of a vote to override his veto, which would require 9 votes, one more than the 8 that passed the bill yesterday. As council is out on recess, this would also require a special session to call the vote.
What can you do to help stop Mayor Gray from vetoing the bill?
If you live outside of DC, you can call Mayor Gray at?(202) 727-6300
If you live in DC, you can call Mayor Gray, and send a letter to Councilmembers here.?