Loose Lips

Vince Gray Vetoes Large Retailer Accountability Act

Mayor Vince Gray vetoed the Large Retailer Accountability Act (otherwise known as the Walmart bill) today, saying that although the "intentions of its supporters were good," the legislation would " kill economic development" in some parts of the District "for a generation."

In his veto letter to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Gray says the bill would kill jobs and hurt economic development. Instead, Gray wants the Council to increase the minimum wage citywide by a "reasonable" amount. The Council, which is back in session next week, could try to override the veto, but it passed one vote short of the majority that would be needed to do that.

"If I were to sign this bill into law, it would do nothing but hinder our ability to create jobs, drive away retailers, and set us back on the path to prosperity for all," Gray writes.

Walmart had threatened to cancel three stores in the District if the bill, which would have raised wages at its stores and other big-box retailers whose workers aren't covered by collective-bargaining agreements to $12.50 an hour (or less, counting benefits), had become law. In a statement, Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo praised Gray for choosing "jobs, economic development and common sense over special interests."

"Now that this discriminatory legislation is behind us, we will move forward on our first stores in our nation’s capital," Restivo says. "We look forward to finishing the work we started in the city almost three years ago: a plan to bring more jobs, shopping options and fresh food choices to Washington, D.C. residents.

A statement from Respect D.C., one of the leading organizations pushing for the bill, said the veto was disappointing. "Mayor Gray had the opportunity to stand up for the residents of this city, but instead he allowed large, out of town companies, like Walmart, to threaten him and ultimately dictate the policies of our city," Ward 7 resident and Macy's employee Kimberly Mitchell says in the statement. "By vetoing this bill he has further eroded the ability of D.C. residents and workers to earn enough money to take care of themselves and their families while remaining in the city.”

Read Gray's letter on the veto below:

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Corky

    Thank you, Mayor Gray for saving jobs and using common sense! This bill clearly targeted Walmart and would only result in the loss of hundreds of jobs and retail development in areas of the city that desperately need it. The limousine riding union leaders and well to do, elitist, activists demanding an artificially high "living wage" at the expense of people who have no jobs at all make me sick.

  • Milton Noones

    Silly bill.

  • Dcgovcorruption

    Since I live in ward 7 and know that we don't have any big box retailers in SE,I am pleased that the Mayor has finally done something beneficial for residents in SE who must drive to MD/VA to spend their money for necessary clothing, food and household goods.

  • jimbo

    While I am no fan of Gray, I applaud him for looking past the posturing and idiocy of the Council and vetoing this bad legislation.

  • Dno

    Thank you, mayor Gray. The veto letter so cleary articulates the damages this bill would cause our city and particularly those residents with no job or employment history. I know the Council is full of panderers and idiots, but for some reason expected more of Jack Evans. His vote is nothing more than a cynical ploy for union support in the mayoral race. I suspect it will backfire badly.

  • Mario

    The bill may be poorly written, but the mayor's rationale for vetoing it is equally poor. Not to mention his insulting comment about "prosperity for all." Hey genius, Wallmart is already prosperous, and since they don't care to share their billions in annual profits with their employees, it's time their forced to.
    $15 per hour for all is the way to go. But the mayor and council members are too indebted to the business community for this to ever happen. The business interests can hoot and holler all they want about not being able to afford it, but if you don't value your employees enough to pay them a close-to-living-wage then maybe you shouldn't be in business.
    The labor movement has been effectively beaten down over the past 3 decades, but a day of reckoning for owners who exploit their employees will come soon. Might be another 10 years, but it will happen.

  • Chuck

    An important distinction that's being lost in this debate is the KIND of "job" we're talking about. Don't think for one second that a part-time sales-floor job at Walmart or Best Buy is comparable to full time employment at a mom-and-pop store (even if it doesn't draw as many customers).

    Large retailers like the ones targeted in this bill actively seek out and exploit legal loopholes in order to cut costs; legislation to fight that tactic doesn't "drive away job creators", it simply drives away useless jobs.

  • Corky

    Mario: You clearly have never had to meet a payroll. $15 for all is ridiculous in the retail environment or fast food shops. They would simply go out of business and take those jobs with them at those wages. How many people do you know making $15 an hour at McDonald's? Did you know that some armed security officers make less than $15 an hour? There is no way that some one flipping burgers is even worth that much.

  • Izzy

    I applaud DC's Mayor for being practical. Having said that, we (Maryland in general and Prince Georges County in particular) will miss the lost revenue from this decision.

  • Zeus

    Chuck, jobs, even lousy ones, are better than no jobs. And despite your rosy view of Mom and Pops, they're often poorly run, poorly stocked, get little business, and can't afford to pay anything more than what Wal-Mart does.

    Oh, and guess what? Large anchor tenants like Wal-Mart attract traffic, which allows smaller businesses around them to do much better than they normally would.

    Large parts of DC desperately need economic development. Like them or not, Wal-Mart provides that.

  • KissMyGrits

    YESS!!!! Thank You Mayor Gray

  • Miss Lu Lu Hogg

    Darling, only in America. LOL

  • keithindc

    Tells me VG is not running for re-election. The Union vote is too big.

  • truth hurts

    A lot of sock puppets on here.

  • Union Putin

    Thanks Mayor Gray, you should know by now we will not be supporting you if you run for Mayor again. You have sided with the outsider and lack respect for DC residents.

    PS. DC doesn't need all those Wal-Marts anyway. I will be taking my money to Costco where they treat their workers with dignity and respect!!

  • Can’t Believe This

    I can't buy a house or provide for my kids off that skimpy wage that Wal-Mart is paying. Gray doesn't have a backbone at all. The only reason he vetoed the bill is because Wal-Mart coming to SE is the only thing he has done for East of the River since he has been in politics.

    All Wal-Mart did was threaten to take away the stores in the low income areas, but wanted to keep them in the nice areas. They care nothing for the city nor the residents and only want a piece of our revenue.

    They should raise the property taxes on Wal-Mart and use the money for education or for other development.

  • Asuka


    He's been signaling for months that he isn't running. This is just more confirmation that he has no plan to seek re-election.

    I wish he had signed it, not because I agree with the bill, but because I think the people who push for these sorts of things should suffer the consequences. It would have been great to see Walmart drop out of the district and leave the progressive activists to explain to the unemployed residents of 7 and 8 how that was actually a good thing. Best of luck to Mendleson - I hope he pulls it off.

  • S.E.


    Do you think you're going to find the same quality of products in D.C. that you find in Md. & Va.?

    I think not. Just look at the Safeways & Giants....higher prices....lower quality.

  • RealDC

    POP! POP! The bottles of champagne! Walmart is going to save DC!!

    Can't wait to buy all the cheap toothpaste and other crappy made products they sell!!

    Mayor One City is an old CLOWN!!

    I guess he can shop at Walmart for more "super" black hair dye and "little" blue pills to keep him fooling himself in the mirror and every where ELSE!

    I voted and supported Mayor Gray since he ran for Council Chair and mayor....but that day is OVER! You are the WORST of the WORSE!
    You have never,ever stood up for the people that VOTED and SUPPORTED you. Now we understand why you "pledged" the fraternity did. You were a "sell out" then and nothing has changed.

    DC does not need 6 Walmarts, lazy-ass, broke politicians being swayed by the local Walmart lobbying monkeys are the WORSE.

    "Walmart jobs are the road to prosperity"...... NO its not, what a moron. Please arrest and throw this monkey in jail.

    Shame on YOU!!

  • RealDC

    LOL- After another read of Gray's letter to the council, I have to say, he is WEAK!! His argument is WEAK! Overall, Gray is a CHUMP with a GUMP disposition. SMH.

    Bring on the NEW mayor, this guy is a JOKE!!!

    Old One-City Buffoon!

  • SEis4ME


    You also won't be buying a house nor provide for your kids on a Safeway/Popeyes/CVS/McD's salary which are all in close proximity to the Skyland site.

  • Pingback: The veto comes at last

  • tony

    I am not sure who Gray was listening to on this one. His political support amongst his core base will take a serious blow and without significant public support he is vulnerable for almost anything.

    Mayor Gray would be wise to do all he can to ensure that homegrown small businesses are established with the city help around the Walmart sites. He must do this.

    ...or Jack Evans will.

  • Surprised

    I've been keeping up with LL for the past couple years and found it odd that VO was one of the strong advocates for this bill. Since he used to work for Pepco, a lot of people slammed him for being a politician of the old guard and feeding off the political machine.

    He stood up against the Wal-Mart bullies and vouched for the DC residents to be paid a respectable wage. Is Gray that desparate for praise that he is willing to give East of the River an upgrade from crumbs just because they are so used to getting little support in those areas? He could've atleast spoke with the lobbyist and asked to workout a better number for the minimum wage but to veto the bill all together and the excuse was killing jobs? He is moreso concerned with being able to say "Hey I single handedly save SE with job creation and development" instead of "Hey myself along with the council made sure there was development, jobs, and a quality of life where you can enjoy the fruits of your labor".

    Not a huge fan of either colors haha but just interesting to see how they both handled the situation.

  • Typical DC BS

    Unbelievable how many mental midgets here think this liberal nonsense makes sense at ANY level. DC government discriminating against certain employers by telling them what they have to pay their workers, while allowing their competition to pay less? Only a moron can justify that. And the contention that forcing employers to pay a "living wage" will allow them to buy houses? Please, go back and finish high school and maybe not sleep through math this time.

    While these twits are at it, why don't they just blow their union minders on-stage while they're at it and force Wal-Mart to unionize as well?

  • southeast lady

    Too much of an increase in raises too soon. Maybe over a 2-3 years period of time.

  • southeast lady

    I am glad that Gray made the decision to veto that bill. We the District needs those stores as customers, as job seekers, et cetera.

  • S.E.

    "I am glad that Gray made the decision to veto that bill. We the District needs those stores as customers, as job seekers, et cetera'


  • southeast lady

    To Corky: McDonald's and other such fast food restaurants were built on a model of hiring school age kids who worked part time and lived at home with their parents and had no overhead expenses. They eventually started hiring retired people who just needed a little supplemental money to their retirement income. They then started hiring workers who depended on their jobs to pay all of their living expenses. This was unrealistic and McDonald's food prices shot way up in order to pay these type of workers what they pay now.

    My advice to these people is to get some technical training while they work at McD so that they get move up and get the heck out of there.