Loose Lips

Walmart Polls on the Living Wage Bill

Despite voting on the Large Retail Accountability Act nearly a week ago, the D.C. Council still hasn't sent the legislation—otherwise known as the Walmart bill—to Mayor Vince Gray. When he does get it, though, expect Walmart to release a new poll showing that D.C. residents want the chain.

Steven Restivo, a spokesman for the retailer, tells LL that Walmart has commissioned a phone poll of D.C. residents. "We thought it made sense to see what residents think about the future of economic development in the city, since that issue is at the core of the LRAA debate," Restivo writes in an email.

So, what's on the poll? Restivo hasn't gotten back to LL with the questions, but one woman who says she was called for the poll paraphrased it as asking whether she would like "increased opportunities to save money shopping for things like clothing and groceries while at the time providing thousands of new jobs."

Who could say no to that? Walmart watchers will remember that company is fond of releasing polls about its own popularity. In 2010, as it got ready to enter the District, the retailer released a poll showing 73 percent of residents wanted Walmart in the city.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • reader

    Yes, despite the BS put out by the unions and the democraps, people like Walmart.

  • drez

    Am I the only one who thinks its a bit ridiculous to think that council will vote for living wages for dc employees when doing so would certainly necessitate them voting for a tax increase. In election year.

  • AERzondzinska

    Despite the BS put out by Walmart, the company is still a draconian employer and international criminal.

  • Big Bill

    Why shouldn't Walmart workers be able to afford to live in the same area where they work? It's impossible to live in the District on minimum wage.

    Additionally, nothing destroys the appeal of a block or area like a disgusting Walmart and the trash that shop there.

  • Shela

    Surprisingly, the DC City Council did the right thing for once. Let's see if old wrinkle Gray can follow suite. Walmart is bluffing, they want the stores, more than we do. Who spends money on lobbyist and surveys? Ans. somebody who wants something bad.

  • DCster

    My husband just got a call from a Arizona area code. He said the question sounded loaded and based on his one response, they ended the call. I'm very curious whether Walmart was behind it, and if so, I'd want to see the full set of questions asked before believing any poll results they put out. Even then, much better to have a neutral party poll on an issue such as this.

  • drez

    I wouldn't bank on Walmart wanting us that bad. They have sunk costs with these specific developments that they don't want to lose. Beyond that, I'm sure they'll be happy to do the usual thing ala Washington Deadskins etc and play DC MD and VA against eachother.

  • noodlez

    I WANT TO KNOW WHO THEY POLLED AND FROM WHAT PART OF THE CITY?

    WORD ON THE STREET FROM THE FOLKS WHO WOULD BE SHOPPING AT WALMART SAID THEY WILL NOT BE GOING THERE BECAUSE WALMART DOESN'T WANT TO PAY DC RESIDENTS. A BOYCOTT OF SORTS! THEY SAID THEY WILL CONTINUE DOING WHAT THEY'VE BEEN DOING.

    THE BUZZ IS THEY DONT WANT TO WALMART THEIR MONEY IF WALMART IS NOT GOING TO GIVE THEIRS!

    FOLKS WALMART IS TRYING TO MAKE INROADS TO URBAN CENTERS BECAUSE RURAL AMERICA IS LOSING JOBS, PEOPLE AND CAPITAL HOWEVA CITIES ARE GROWING AND WACKMART IS ALL IN.

    I CAN'T UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE THEY ARE BUYING GOODS FROM FOLK WHO MAKE SLAVE WAGES AND SELLING IT WITH FOLKS WHO MAKE SLAVE WAGES ON THIS END!

  • NE John

    To hell with this goober store. It has no place in DC.

  • CityRez

    We were called Sunday. The one question was simple, something like, "Do you favor more shopping options in under-served neighborhoods in the District of Columbia?" It was laughable.

  • RealDC

    LOL.

    You gotta to love the "game" that Walmart kicks.... it is just unbelievable. A poll? Walmart's ground team in DC are bunch of clowns. All of the local lobbyists, etc.

    How much cheap toothpaste does DC need?

  • Green Eyeshade

    NE John, you really hit the nail on the head with the "goober" label. Turns out, that is exactly what Walmart wants to do, turn DC workers into Arkansas goobers.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/harold-meyerson-dc-council-stands-for-fair-wages-and-against-wal-mart/2013/07/16/569eb418-ee48-11e2-9008-61e94a7ea20d_print.html

    Check out these closing grafs:

    "Wal-Mart’s insistence on bringing Southern wages north contradicts the spirit of Southern regionalism on which many of America’s (and now, the world’s) largest companies have come to rely. Knowing that both the cost of living and wage scales are lower in the South, and that Southern states’ right-to-work laws effectively blocked workers’ efforts to form unions, Northern manufacturers began opening plants there decades ago.

    "Wal-Mart’s goal is to erase that North-South difference by making every place the South. It commands such a large share of the nation’s retail sector that it has compelled its suppliers to lower their own pay scales all along its supply chain to provide lower-cost products.

    "So, high-wage manufacturers say they have to go south, while low-wage retailers say they have to go north. In aggregate, the corporate message to Northern workers is: Heads, I win; tails, you lose.

    "That’s why last week’s vote by the D.C. Council has more than just local importance. Requiring the District’s big-box stores to pay a living wage ensures that incomes in this high-cost city won’t be dragged down to the level of those in the low-cost rural South. The council’s vote isn’t the final word: D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray still could veto the measure. But with working-class incomes everywhere spiraling downward, he might conclude that the Wal-Mart-ization of work — and income — must be stopped at the District line."

  • Green Eyeshade

    Walmart is deeply disgusting. It is one of the major financial backers for ALEC, the right-wing "legislative" think tank that wrote the "Stand Your Ground Law" that forced the judge in the George Zimmerman trial to tell the jury that they couldn't convict the killer if he was in fear, the law that the U.S. Attorney General just denounced at the NAACP convention. Walmart loves the "Stand Your Ground" law because Walmart sells lots of guns & ammo. Especially ammo. That's the kind of mentality Walmart wants to bring to DC. Like we need more guns & ammo or Walmart's plantation overseer attitude.

    If the mayor vetos the living wage bill, he will prove once and for all that he is too corrupt to be allowed to continue serving in office.

  • SEis4ME

    If Gray has any sense at all. He will veto the bill.

    Skyland needs Walmart more than it need's Skyland. Can't wait to shop there!

  • Really?

    @drez those "sunk cost" can be easy covered. The the collective wealth of the six richest Waltons is $90 billion. And again while folks will have a Walmart job they won't have benefits therefore adding to the welfare roles (bring in the complainers about poor minorities utilizing our dc taxes to buy food).

  • NE John

    Thanks Greeneyeshades. That is what I've been screaming for a couple of years now. This will only bring us down. It is like a virus.

  • NE John

    Let me put it this way Mayor Gray: The South has a very bad record regarding slavery, slave wages etc. Is this what we want here?!?!? It's like taking 1 step forward and 50 steps backwards. Do not veto this bill.

  • http://ConsDem ConsDem

    The Mayor should veto the bill. We need to get off being high and mighty and create more jobs in the City - particularly in certain Wards. Sure, I don't like Walmart but to deny people a job and the ability to shop in their neighborhood far outweighs my feelings about Walmart. We have all benefitted from unions but sometimes they need to back off a little.

  • AERzondzinska

    The "pollster" who called me identified himself only as "Todd," with nary a hint of who might be commissioning the call. He had only one question, he told me upfront. Before he even finished enunciating it in a "Morning in America" crescendo, I knew who was behind the call. It was such a leading question, it nearly left me speechless. To say "no" would brand one as a mean-spirited grinch. To say "yes" would play into Walmart's hands. I chose the former, and Todd sounded shocked. He is an excellent actor. I suggest people complain to the FTC's Do Not Call Registry if they have registered their phone number with the registry: http://www.donotcall.gov or by calling the registry’s toll-free number at 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236).

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  • A Veto for All

    One thing that no one seems to be talking about it in this debate is why the people who this bill was specifically targeted to cover, Walmart Workers, are entitled to make a "Living Wage", while other workers in the city are not. Equal work, equal pay. There should not be multiple classes of workers, covered by different rules and laws favoring one class over another. The Constitution dictates, Equal Treatment Under the Law. We should not have laws favoring one class over another. Would we stand for a law that paid different wages based on Race or Orientation? No we would not. If a living wage is a good thing, then it must be a good thing for everyone.
    The Mayor should Veto this bill, the Council should start over in the fall.

  • Green Eyeshade

    @ConsDem and other Walmart fluffers: Walmart is talking out of both sides of its mouth. If you accept its claims that each store would "generate" 300 "new jobs," Walmart has already *cut* 900 jobs by canceling three stores, even before DC elected officials made any change in the law, even before a veto by the mayor. It claims it likes economic development, but it has just *reduced* the development it claims it likes, by canceling three stores.

    Global mega-corporations like Walmart are not "job creators," WE are the job creators. WE pay the taxes that ensure reliable infrastructure, transit and educated workers that employers like big retail stores need. Then WE spend the money on the consumer goods the retailers provide. Without increases in *consumer spending,* there are zero new jobs.

    Walmart canceled those three stores in *retaliation* for the job creators of DC (the residents) exercising our first amendment rights to protect ourselves from economic exploitation. Walmart is *retaliating* against DC Council for representing the interests of DC residents. In other words, Walmart is trying to destroy our democratic rights, it is retaliating for the mere fact that DC residents and our elected representatives would dare to challenge its predatory low wages.

    This double-talking anti-democratic corporate tyrant is getting what it deserves. We don't buy its redneck, cracker BS up here. Sell it in Alabama, Ms. Walton.

  • Green Eyeshade

    Veto for All obviously hasn't read the bill. It does NOT cover only Walmart workers. Even Walmart's lawyers never made that claim in their testimony against the bill before DC Council in March and April.

    Veto's constitutional law arguments are just wrong. Totally confused, but also just wrong.

  • drez

    @ Really?

    To say they can cover the sunk costs is not the same thing as saying they will cut their losses and abandon them. Just from a bottom-line standpoint that makes no sense. And Walmart is nothing if not all about the cents (SWIDT?)
    Additionally and as others have noted, Walmart is also likely looking at this as a precedent. They will fight this at least up to the sunk costs level, and probably further. And they will walk if they lose.

    For them it's only business.

  • Green Eyeshade

    @drez, your business case about the "sunk costs" is very interesting. I am a little slow on the ROI calculations, can you help us out with some numbers? Like, what big budget items has Walmart already spent on the Georgia Avenue store?

    Most folks talking about the living wage bill have not paid attention to DC Council's findings of fact included in the bill, including their specific finding that the DC suburbs are "oversaturated" with retail businesses. Walmart probably does not have options to build in NoVa or nearby Maryland that it has not already exploited. So its blackmail threats were explicitly rejected by DC Council by the legislative fact-finding *contained in the bill.*

  • Really?

    @Drez I agree that Walmart is running on ego at this point. Walmart never back down from a fight. But, there aren't too many cities/counties who have the leverage that we have in the District of Columbia.

    Again....while Walmart may provide jobs for an area that needs them they don't provide benefits. So after these workers scrap together a few paychecks for rent, food and transpo where does the money come from for health care?

    The answer is the D.C. taypayer. So in essence we are subsidizing Walmart's employees.

    The fact that they are conducting polls and sending in the big gun lobbyist says they don't want to abandon us. And if they do let them walk!

  • Typical DC BS

    LOL @ Green Eyeshade. Your business sense is laughable. But then again, you defend the doofus Holder and his nonsensical railing about Stand Your Ground, so what can be expected otherwise.

  • Green Eyeshade

    LOL Walmart fluffers have zero facts.

  • SEis4ME

    @Typical....Nonsensical?

    Considering that we just had a case where a 17-yr old innocent kid wasn't able to Stand His Own Ground, please explain your view on Holder's nonsensical railings.

    I hope you distinguish yourself from Cohen, Limbaugh and Coulter in the process.

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  • cutthecrap

    @green eyeshade...I hope everyone reads your post #21 twice (especially the five Councilmembers who voted against the bill). It makes so much sense. Finally some good dialogue on Loose Lips from everyone. You guys should be teaching Econ and Gov't 101...lol. It shouldn't be a case where those underserved area are so desperate for retail/big box that they will fall for a corporate giant that doesn't give a rats ass about the community they will be moving to and the workers who will only help the Walton family increase their net worth. Good article, good comments. Kudos!

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