Mayor Vince Gray has vetoed the Large Retailer Accountability Act that City Council had approved earlier this summer, paving the way for the five planned Wal-Marts to remain in D.C. The Large Retailer Accountability Act, also known as the Living Wage Bill, would have required large retailers in buildings greater than 75,000 square feet to pay their employees a living wage of $12.50 an hour instead of the current minimum wage of $8.25. Gray said that passing the bill would have accounted for the loss of 4,000 jobs in the next few years and that he would rather push forward with legislation that raised the minimum wage for all D.C. residents.
When City Council approved the bill, Wal-Mart had threatened to pull out of three of its planned six locations. They stated that the terms of the bill discriminated against their company personally, but the Large Retailer Accountability Act had also gotten flack from companies like the long sought after Wegman's, who said they might not come to D.C. if such a law was approved. Wal-Mart would have abandoned the sites at Skyland Town Center, New York Avenue and Capitol Gateway if the bill had not been vetoed. The site at Skyland was one of the initial conditions that Mayor Gray had placed on Wal-Mart if they wanted to come to D.C. at all. Those were the three areas where construction had not yet started on the buildings but also the three areas where the community was the most underserved and would have benefitted from both the resources and the jobs. The deal for the New York Avenue Wal-Mart actually fell apart on Friday for other reasons.
Gray recognized the bill's good intentions but called it, "a woefully inadequate and flawed vehicle for achieving the goal we all share." He stated that the bill would affect more retailers than just Wal-Mart who had stated intentions to stay out of D.C. if the bill became law. He also pointed out that there was nothing in the legislature ensuring that these higher paying jobs would necessarily go to District residents. In short, Gray said that in these underserved parts of D.C., "it will kill economic development in these communities for a generation."
Am vetoing because I believe in providing a living wage to as many DC residents as possible – & this bill is not a true living-wage measure.— Vincent C. Gray (@mayorvincegray) September 12, 2013
LRAA contained 2 huge loopholes: Only applied 2 non-union retailers & only stores 75K+ SF. Why do other workers not deserve living wage?— Vincent C. Gray (@mayorvincegray) September 12, 2013
LRAA is about far more than Walmart. Other retailers (Target, Wegmans, Harris Teeter, Macy's) said they would reconsider expanding in DC.— Vincent C. Gray (@mayorvincegray) September 12, 2013