D.C. livable wage bill: Mayor Gray undecided on signing, vetoing

Photo: Samuel Corum

A day after the D.C. Council voted to approve a bill that would force large retailers in the District of Columbia to pay a minimum wage 50 percent higher than normal, Mayor Vincent Gray has a major decision to make about whether to sign or veto it.

He has not yet made that decision, though, he tells NewsChannel 8's Bruce DePuyt.

The Council voted 8-5 Wednesday to pass the Large Retailer Accountability Act, which would force stores in the District that comprise more than 75,000 square feet, to pay its employees $12.50 per hour. That's $4.25 higher than the District's current minimum wage.

DOCUMENT: Read the text of the Large Retailer Accountability Act

The legislation is largely believed to be targeted for Walmart, which has long had plans to open six stores throughout Washington. However, immediately after the bill passed, Walmart officials said they would not proceed with the construction of three of those six stores.

Those three stores would have been located on New York Avenue, in the Skyland Town Center and in the Capitol Gateway development off East Capitol Street.

Walmart has long opposed the LRAA, saying that it discriminates against large retailers and doesn't promote development in the District. Company officials also believe that despite the bill generically targeting all big box stores, Walmart may be the real target for the bill.

That's because, as the Washington Post reports, the LRAA exempts stores that have unionized workforces and includes a grandfather clause for other big retailers.

Gray refutes that point.

"it is more than a Wal-Mart bill," Gray told DePuyt. "It affects a number of other retailers as well. It has a reach well beyond Wal-Mart."

In an op-ed published Tuesday in the Post, Wal-Mart regional general manager Alex Barron said that the bill could also delay the opening of the other three Walmart locations under construction.