Back to the drawing board for low-wage workers in Washington, D.C., where Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage for large retailers.
The Large Retailer Accountability Act required non-union big box stores like Walmart — which threatened to not build three of six planned D.C. stores if the bill passed — to pay employees $12.50 an hour. That’s $4.25 more than the general city-required minimum wage. The increase would only have applied to stores 75,000 square feet or larger.
But Gray shot the bill down yesterday, calling it a job-killer, “[N]early every large retailer now considering opening a store in the District has indicated they would not come here or expand here if this bill becomes law,” the mayor said in a statement.
It’s a blow to the working poor in the District, where lawmakers were taking a page out of San Francisco and San Jose’s playbooks. Both Bay Area cities have recently undergone wage hikes, albeit across the board and not focused specifically on big box retailers.
Gray said that he’ll work with city council on a bill to raise the minimum wage for all workers, not just those employed at big retail corporations. It remains to be seen if that’s just pageantry after his veto. But if the Large Retailer Accountability Act was just a legislative casualty on the road to higher wages in D.C., that’s a fight worth having.
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Bill Bradley is a writer and reporter living in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Deadspin, GQ, and Vanity Fair, among others.