Loose Lips

D.C. Council Fails to Override Veto of Living-Wage Bill

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson's attempt to win one more vote to override Mayor Vince Gray's veto of the Large Retailer Accountability Act looked doomed only a few minutes into At-Large Councilmember David Catania's speech. Even though he began by talking about his mother's union card, Catania eventually announced that he would vote against the bill.

If Catania had switched his vote, however, the LRAA would already have failed. That's because At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds switched her vote from supporting the bill to opposing the veto override, leaving it far from the required nine votes. Seven members voted to overturn the veto, and six voted against.

Bill opponent Yvette Alexander, whose Ward 7 includes two of the stores Walmart had threatened to cancel if the bill became law, used her speech to argue that blocking the legislation would help development. Much of the development Alexander anticipates would be around the stagnant Skyland plot, which will host one of the Walmarts. "I'll be darned if we aren't going to get it," Alexander said.

Earlier Tuesday, the Council had seen no fewer than four new minimum-wage bills introduced. In his speech, Mendelson argued that the existence of those bills shouldn't make members vote against the LRAA, which would require Walmart and other non-unionized big-box retailers to pay $12.50 an hour (minus benefits). The current D.C. minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, a dollar more than the federal minimum.

"It's fine that we try to raise the minimum wage, but we actually need an economic development strategy that does more than that," Mendelson said.

After the vote, supporters of the bill noisily left the chamber, with one man confronting councilmembers at the dais and saying, "Y'all forgot about us!" Outside the Council chamber, Rev. Graylan Hagler vowed to lead the discussion over raising the minimum wage. "We're going to run that debate," Hagler said.

In a statement released after the override failure, Walmart said that it "[looks] forward to being part of the solution in communities across D.C., especially in areas east of the river that have been traditionally overlooked by major retailers."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Corky

    Hopefully, this wil shut up the loud mouths who produce no jobs but have an irrational hatred of Walmart, as if it is any different from Target, Kohls, Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, McDonald's, Wendy's or Burger King when it comes to wages. Somehow, they never protest outside of Popeye's or KFC. Can't run off the fried chicken shacks now, can we?

  • Sally

    I think they should raise the minimum wage, generally. But legislation should not target one or two companies, as a favor to protect the politically wired, established order from competition. This bill should have been called the "Giant Food Protection From New Competition Act of 2013." Gray was right to veto it.

  • Shame

    Funny how the stores that Wal-Mart were threatening to close were those east of the river, but their quote was Walmart said that it "[looks] forward to being part of the solution in communities across D.C., especially in areas east of the river that have been traditionally overlooked by major retailers."

    DC got bullied again....

  • full speed ahead

    Wal-Mart is a business, not a public service...of course they would close the ones with the least potential...they are putting up their own damn money. Now hurry up and open them up, I am ready to shop.

  • MattK

    Awesome! the council just voted to add more people to food stamp and medicare rolls. Exactly what the city needs, part time work that provides no benefits while giving more and more tax money to wal mart.

  • noodlez

    @MATTK-YOUR COMMENT IF HALF RIGHT. PT WORK THAT PROVIDES NO HELP RE: HEALTH CARE & UPWARD MOBILITY WHILE WALMART GETS A BIG WELFARE CHECK!

    @COMMENT #1-I'M SURE IF WE RUN THEM OFF YOUR ASS WILL BE DISAPPOINTED AS YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SWITCH YOUR DRUMSTICK ASS PLAY GAME UP BETWEEN THE SOFT ORIGINAL RECIPE OR THE HARD EXTRA CRISPY.
    PUNK ASS MUTHA FUCKA! WATCH YOUR MOUTH.

  • Ward-8

    All those folks jumping up and down about being ready to shop for cheap products show the same disdain for the workers as a company whose whole concept is paying cheap wages,exploiting their employees both foreign and domestic because its about profit, need only read a recent article to an including a 60 minutes report which shows the Walton's with a combine net worth over 121 Billion dollars uses every exotic tax loop hole available to pay little to no US taxes on their vast inherited wealth. Yet, they pay millions to lobbyist annually to sway the fools and the gullible whose only concerns is self and the thrust for cheap products despite the exploitation of their fellow humans who make,stock and sell cheap products with no livable benefit to them selves. I will never enter,refer or shop in any Wal-mart until the billionaire owners reward their exploited workers with a decent wage.

  • stick2yourguns

    Well we can change a vote on Anita Bonds ass to...from being a council member to NOT being a council member

  • RealDC

    Walmart saves DC!!

    It is comical to hear the Walmart "fans" cry on how "Walmart was treated so bad"...hilarious!!

    Stop electing broke politicians that have done nothing in their career before being elected to office. Then get mad when they screw the citizens for their donors!!

    Elect better people!! Vote for better leadership!!

  • Pingback: D.C. Council Fails to Override Veto of Living-Wage Bill - iVoter.net

...