Loose Lips

Will D.C. Walmarts Get Higher Minimum Wage?

Fans of channel 13: set your clocks for tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

That's when a D.C. Council committee will take up a bill that would force big-box retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, and Target to pay workers a minimum wage of $11.75 an hour.That's $3 an hour more than the District-wide minimum wage of $8.25 (which is set by law at $1 per hour more than the federal minimum).

As former Housing Complex reporter Lydia DePillis pointed out in 2011, Walmart left little to chance when it set its sights on opening several stores in the District. The company hired the city's most connected lobbyists (including paying David Wilmot more than $300,000 since 2006), schmoozed the city's elected officials, and showered community groups with grants. So far, that's all paid off, as Walmart's planned entrance into the District has been silky smooth. The world's largest retailer is set to open two stores later this year, with more to come after that.

But that smooth ride is about to be tested. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has tried unsuccessfully in past years to get a big-box wage bill passed, but that was before he became chairman. Every councilmember but Ward 5's Kenyan McDuffie signed on as a co-sponsor when Mendelson introduced the bill in January. But as the Post noted last week, that doesn't necessarily mean those councilmembers will actually wind up supporting the bill.

Walmart has helped form a group opposed to the bill called "Don’t Block D.C. Progress," and a company spokesman says the group plans on having a sizable presence at tomorrow's hearing to show opposition to the bill. An anti-Walmart group called Respect D.C. is also asking its members to pack the hearing room as well. Should be crowded.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • RealDC

    I will bet $1 that this council will not pass this bill tomorrow as written right now!!

    The Walmart money has already been "circulated" around the room.

    All eyes will be on "ward 4's" mayoral candidate, Bowser.... lets see which way she will go??

  • tony


    I am just curious. Can you name one politician in this city who is the prototype of a politician that you believe is best for the voters. And since you have made it clear that color is irrelevant to you, feel free to select someone of any color.

  • Mrs. D

    Meanwhile Costco chuckles and says "we'll still get our pick of the litter by paying even more than that?"

    But, seriously, why big-box stores and not other big companies? Why would Walmart have to pay $11.25 and McDonalds get away with $8.25? I'm certainly no fan of Walmart. I'd guess they've gotten less than $100 of my money in the last 5 years (my family does their shopping there, and if I'm along for the ride, I might buy something; I've also purchased some get-them-anywhere-they're-all-made-in-China household stuff from them). I have no intention of increasing that when they open here. But I just don't understand what the square footage of the store has to do with what they should pay. Maybe we should just get to having a reasonable minimum wage and other labor protections without regard to how we feel about the company. Given how expensive this whole area is, a minimum wage less than 14% above the national requirement is lackluster, at best.

  • anons

    It will be defeated. Plain and simple. If it were to pass, the City would be caught up in lawsuits for years and the "progress" that the Mayor likes to beat his chest about with all the new developments (even in his beloved Skyland) would come to a screeching halt. Walmart will simply take the projects that havent opened a mile further into the open arms of Maryland.

    This targets walmart but retailers like H&M, Target, Macy's would all get dragged into it.

    Walmart had revenue last year of 450 billion and an operating income of 26 billion. DC's budget is 6 billion. Walmart spent 250 million last year on legal fees. That is more than DC spends in a year on Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and DC Public Librarys COMBINED.

    If DC really wanted to solve the problem, they would simply increase the District minimum wage. Problem solved, but Mendo has a hard on for Walmart. And as history has shown, every city legislator in America who has had a similar rise in his pants about going after the big bad Walmart, will lose.

  • Rcfx1

    Punitive legislation. That's what this place needs. Let's force just walmart to pay more because we want to. Who is next on the target list and how much of the forced increase going to be passed down to the customers?

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  • sticktoyourguns

    pay the workers!!

  • noodlez



    (sing to mcdonalds jingle of fishy-fishaye)

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    Tony, where have you been? I love reading your comments.

  • Fabrisse

    The DC Living Wage is $12.50, not $11.75. I won't say $11.75 isn't a huge improvement, but please use the terminology correctly.

  • RealDC


    Fair question.
    The current group of council members are terrible as a whole and the thought of one of them becoming mayor is laughable.

    On a simple pass/fail test:
    Vince Gray passes. All the Fenty backers need to get over it and stop being sore losers. Yes, Fenty lost than election more than Gray won it but be mad at your candidate not Gray. Was there an "illegal shadow" campaign going on, yep it was. Was Gray running it, NO. Did this band of "political crooks" support Fenty in 2006, yep they did. Williams in 2002, yep same characters. Gray has made some missteps but he is decent and I believe is giving a good effort.

    Mendelson, passes as an At-large member. As Chair, the jury is out.

    Barry, the best politician this city has seen, is over the hill at this point. No, he should not be Mayor again.

    Some former elected officials like John Ray, Wm. Lightfoot in particular were good.

    Finally, take a look at some the ANCs, there are some good folks their that should run for the council. It is time for new folks to be on this city's council.

  • Zach

    Walmart makes enough profits. They can afford it.

  • tony


    Now, everyone see how you struggled with answering that very simple question. And for the record, Mayor Vincent Gray is my boy and I along with other brothers fought for
    Mayor Gray when it was not popular to do so. And I still stand behind Mayor Gray and will defend him until the last day.

    The reason why you struggled with that question is because it goes to the very essence of what you as a person considers acceptable and good leadership. And unless you have a criterion by which you determine what is a good and high quality politician you could never answer that question.

    Unfortunately, many people political views are shaped by the media. And that’s why this blog is so important. This blog along with other social media outlets are designed to do two specific things. 1) Make money (advertisement) and 2) influence public opinion. I believe that your views are shaped more by what you are told opposed to your core set of political beliefs and worldview. That’s a problem. However, I believe that’s the case for too many black folks.

    Specifically, your criticism of the city’s politicians particularly African-Americans is directly related to the media generated propaganda that they are morally corrupt and politically unqualified. But what you failed to take into account is that the media has an agenda as much as the politicians. And their reports on politicians are skewed to favor that agenda. If you are lack a sense of awareness and conscience, you could be led to dislike a politician when that politician in fact fits your style of politics. I honestly believe that what’s happening with you and others.

    Moreover, you tend to believe that there are some people out there who represent the” ideal” politician. There’s no such thing. That’s an illusion. In fact, you cited John Ray and Bill Lightfoot whom I personally know. Yet, you claim to dislike Mayor Fenty. Both of those men politics were more akined to Fenty than anyone elses. In fact, Mr. Lightfoot worked for Mr. Fenty’s campaigned. And John Ray and David Wilmot are best friends—lobbyists. And of course, you have said what you think about David Wilmot. Again, all of these black men are politicians in nature. And they all do the same things and are cut from the same political cloth. Every last one of them capitulated to special interests. That’s how politics works. All of them have character flaws. And there are tons of people in this city who dislikes them all. That’s why they could not be politically elevated.

    Again, our’s moral compass, political philosophy and life experiences should guide our political views and not our need for social acceptance or conformity.

  • RealDC


    LOL. So you ask me a question, I answer it. Now you go on a rant about "best friends" and "boys" and whose politics are "alike". Come on, man.

    I am sure you are "boys" with all of them, so when things go wrong, its YOUR fault! You need to pull your "friends" up and keep them in line.

    Yes, I read, I watch the news, I watch Ch. 13, etc, and I form my own opinions on these folks. I know how to filter the news and I understand the biases in the media, but sometimes a bama is a just a bama.

    You are right, there is no "ideal politician" but supporting "bamas" that are not even mediocre is UNACCEPTABLE! No matter what color, gender, sexual orientation or economic situation of that person.

    The day of the "poverty pimp politicians" is over, AA community need quality leadership...Obama, Booker, Patrick, not perfect, but they are delivering the "bacon"!

  • tony

    @RealDC, HUH?

    I tried to help but if you insist.LOL!