Housing Complex

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

  • Corky

    Veto this garbage!

  • Jim

    Veto Corky!

  • dc only

    All these stores have to do is reduce there overall size and they will be exempt.

  • Okeydokey

    It is going to be hilarious. Walmart has Gray by the short and curlies.

    If he doesn't veto the bill, Walmart gets to walk on the 3 stores in the ghetto that Gray blackmailed them to build, but that they didn't want to build in the first place. 2 or 3 other retailers currently planning to build in DC also walk, and the Council gets goes from being a national laughing stock, to an international one.

    If he vetos the bill, he destroys the unions, and loses their support forever, not that he will need it for long. Machen is going to have him in jail before too long.

  • Mario

    I doubt any of the companies mentioned have any plans to pull out of DC? Yeah, didn't think so.
    Sorry, but huge swaths of DC are now shitting money. ALL big box retaliers know this, which is why they're moving in.
    All these letters amount to is business taking care of business. Any sane person with a mild understanding of economics knows this is NOT about money. These companies will make money even with modest wage increases to the people, ya know, who actually make the GD company profitable in the first place! Naw, they just want to pay rural wages in an expensive city. And since the urban American worker doesn't seem pissed off enough to take to the streets anytime soon, you can expect to see low-paying jobs get even more low-paying.

  • Okeydokey


    You and math clearly didn't get along in grade school.

    Raising the MINIMUM cost of labor, the biggest cost of any of these retailers by 50% is not a "modest" wage increase.

    If it was, why are the McDonalds, DSW, Models, Kohls, Giants/Safeways (who despite the Union talking points fall far short of this Walmart minimum) immune from paying their employees this "minimum". Hell, why are Apple Store employees, who start at 9.25 an hour with less benefits than a Walmart employee and who work for a company that makes 3 times the profit of Walmart immune? Why are their employees less important and not as entitled to make a "living" wage as Walmart employees.

    All of this could have been avoided had the Council simply increased the city minimum wage. But no, at the behest of their union whip crackers, the Council had to go after Walmart, and in doing so bit off more than they can chew. Now Gray has to bow to their demands, or lose the first chance in 25 years to redevelop Skyland, and look like a pawn to the nation.

    Will Target leave Columbia Heights if it passes? No, but you can bet your ass they will think long and hard about opening the store they have half baked in Georgetown. Lowes has already notified the Mayors office that they will pull out of the development on South Dakota Avenue if this goes through.

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  • speaker of truth and honesty


    Thank you for educating Stuper Mario. These same companies can reach DC residents by opening up just outside of the city. This is why we still have more than a $1 Billion a year in retail leakage.

    They can go to any county on the metro line and continue to bleed the city of revenue. Maybe you should stop speaking in talking points and open back up that economics book sir. Or you could continue to chase gold coins and fight turtles.

  • Urban Chic

    Not sure what benefit to workers this will have. Probably would be better to have a smaller increase across the board. I live in the city and buy everything I need from small local businesses and Eastern or Union market. Big retailers won't get any of my money no matter where they locate. Except for Trader Joe's of course. They are awesome!!!

  • FormerBrownSupporter

    one city do the right thing and veto this bill. We need skyland to be developed!