Wal-Mart Wins the Minimum Wage Debate in Washington, D.C.
Back in June, local lawmakers in Washington, D.C., approved a bill called the Large Retailer Accountability Act. The act proposed that large retailers — those doing businesses in spaces of 75,000 square feet or more and earning more than $1 billion in annual sales — increase the minim wage paid to employees from $8.25 per hour (a local minimum already $1 above the federal) to $12.50 per hour.
“The Council of the District of Columbia declares that it is the policy of the district to promote living wage jobs to help working families make ends meet and protect the health, safety, and welfare of our community,” read the bill. “Large retailers are becoming an important source of jobs for local residents. Some large retailers pay very low wages and do not provide their workers affordable health benefits. Without safeguards, large retailers threaten to erode both living standards for working families in the District, especially given the cost of living in the District.”
All of this, to some degree, is true. Retailers are an important source of jobs, particularly in under-served communities and the so-called living wage issue has come front and center over the past few months, reinforced by persistent poverty levels and growing income inequality.