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D.C. ‘living wage’ bill still in limbo

Gray say he has yet to receive bill from Mendelson

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Legislation that would raise the minimum hourly wage at certain large retailers in the District — and could jeopardize Wal-Mart's development plans in the city — is in limbo more than a month after it passed.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who has yet to decide whether he will veto the bill or sign it into law, said Wednesday that he has not yet received the legislation from D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.

"I really think it would be good if we could get the bill and move on with this, but that's not within my control," Mr. Gray said.

The D.C. Council passed the Large Retailer Accountability Act on July 10.

Under the bill, large retailers that meet specific requirements would pay a minimum hourly wage and benefits equal to at least $12.50, an increase of $4.25 over the city's minimum wage. Anxiety is high over this particular legislation because Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has threatened to abandon three of its six planned D.C. stores if the bill stands and said timetables for three other stores could be jeopardized.

Council members who supported the bill argued that the projected 1,800 jobs brought by Wal-Mart would best help residents if the jobs paid a living wage.

Others, including Target, Home Depot, AutoZone and Macy's also are encouraging Mr. Gray to veto the bill, calling it unfairly discriminatory.

The requirement for the higher wage would apply only to retailers with stores larger than 75,000 square feet and parent companies grossing at least $1 billion per year. The bill exempts stores that employ union labor.

Once the bill is officially transmitted to Mr. Gray, he has 10 days to veto or sign it. If vetoed, the council has 30 business days to stage an override vote, which would require nine members. The bill passed on an 8-5 vote.

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