WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Big-box stores in the District would have to pay employees a lot more than the current city-wide minimum wage under a bill that passed in the D.C. Council Wednesday.
If a retailer has a parent company that makes more than $1 billion per year, occupies at least 75,000 square feet and is a non-union shop, the least it would be allow to pay employees per hour is $12.50. Current minimum wage in the city is $8.25. Federal minimum wage is $7.25.
The bill passed 8-5, which is not enough to override a potential veto from Mayor Vincent Gray. It will have a final reading before the council in July.
Activists including Graylan Hagler believe passing the “Large Retailer Accountability Act,” as the legislation is called, is the right thing to do.
“Right now, any given day, you see 60-some cranes in operation in D.C.,” he said. “But yet, at the same time, the working class people of those communities are not sharing in the economic benefit.”
The Chamber of Commerce and people like Ebony Cid from Ward 4 are concerned about chasing business away.
“I’ll have to go to Maryland and shop,” Cid said.
Walmart, which has plans to open six stores in the District, is one of the bill’s most outspoken opponents.
“Why would a city embrace legislation that discriminates against business at the same time it is promoting big, economic development projects, battling double-digit unemployment in some areas; and trying to prevent its residents from spending more than a billion dollars in the suburbs?” the company wrote in a statement released earlier in June.
Walmart has given no indication it won’t open in D.C., but the Chamber of Commerce says other “unnamed” retailers have threatened to walk away.