Six Major Retailers Urge Gray Veto of Living Wage Bill
Executives of six major retailers with stores in D.C. have sent a letter to Mayor Vince Gray urging him to veto the living wage bill passed by the D.C. Council last week. The executives say that the bill's passage forces them to reconsider future plans for expansion in D.C. but stop short of a concrete threat to close stores, as Walmart pledged to do for three of its six planned D.C. stores if the legislation becomes law.
The executives represent Home Depot, Macy's, Lowe's, AutoZone, Target, and Walgreens. The legislation in question, the Large Retailer Accountability Act of 2013, would require retailers in excess of 75,000 square feet with parent companies generating at least $1 billion per year to pay a living wage of $12.50 an hour, minus benefits.
"This legislation is unfairly discriminatory; it singles out businesses based solely on an arbitrary indoor footprint threshold, and does nothing to address the proposed goal of improving job quality and opportunity in the District," the letter states. "With the passage of the Large Retailer Accountability Act, any future plans for retail expansion in the city must be revisited. Arbitrary conditions that subject our stores to rules that other employers, including countless competitors, are not equally subjected to unfairly distort the marketplace and are cause for grave concern."
It's unclear when the bill will reach Gray's desk for a signature or veto; Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told the Washington Times that it could take several weeks. Gray has not stated whether he will sign or veto it, but critical statements by his top deputy for economic development and the potential loss of Skyland Town Center—a project dear to Gray where Walmart has threatened to cancel plans for a store, leaving the whole development in doubt—hint at a possible veto.
The Washington Business Journal's Michael Neibauer first mentioned the letter to Gray on Twitter.
Photo via flickr user djcn0te