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