Groups want Wal-Mart to promise living wage for D.C. workers

The debate over Walmart moving into the District came right to the company's downtown offices Thursday. A local coalition gathered to call on the mega-retailer to make some promises to local workers, including a living wage and full-time work with benefits at its future D.C. stores.

"For Walmart to want to come and pay us $10,000 or $15,000 a year when we know it costs $31,000 to live in D.C., that’s not ok. That’s not acceptable,” said Delese Harvery of the local family economic support program.

This group of community leaders has formed to focus solely on Walmart, no other big box retailers in the district. When the first of the four planned D.C. stores opens in 2013, the group wants Walmart to hire locally.

"We want to circulate those dollars. The more money that turn over in a community, the more you empower the members of that community,” said Dr. Jarvis Johnson, a pastor at the New Prospect family praise and worship center.

The group attempted to deliver a letter along with a community agreement to the Walmart offices but no one was allowed up.

Marina Streznewski of the D.C. Jobs Council said she wasn’t surprised no one from the company came to meet them. “I wish we could have had the opportunity to just hand them a letter,” she said.

Walmart had no comment on the demonstration. The company claims the D.C. stores will create 1,200 jobs. Already under D.C. law they must pay at least a dollar more an hour than the national minimum wage.

Protesters vowed to try again. “I think we just have to be persistent in this matter,” said Harvey.