Last week, Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) which would have required big box retailers to pay a $12.50 per hour minimum wage.
D.C. residents from neighborhoods throughout the city took their calls for fair wages and good jobs to the D.C. City Council today in light of the override vote of Mayor Gray’s veto of the LRAA. The bill has been recognized by local residents, Council Members, policy experts, and economists as a bill that would help improve jobs and bolster the local economy.
At noon on Tuesday, hundreds of people – including OUR Walmart, UFCW Local 400, AFL-CIO, OUR DC, DC Jobs with Justice, and other community supporters rallied for an override. The rally came as Walmart workers in the D.C. area and nationwide have increased their calls to improve jobs at the country’s largest employer. Last week, 100 workers and supporters were arrested when refusing to end their calls for better jobs at Walmart.
On Tuesday, the D.C. City Council failed to override Mayor Gray’s veto of the LRAA. The bill faced fierce opposition from the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, which threatened to cancel three of six stores planned for D.C. if the LRAA was passed. The threat was made despite the fact Walmart had promised residents and elected officials it would pay a wage of $13 an hour to workers if the stores were approved.
Despite falling short of success, the wage ordinance has boosted living wage efforts across the country.
Less than a week ago, the California Legislature approved raising the state’s minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10 by 2016. This fall, New Jersey voters will vote on a referendum that would raise their state’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour. And the Minnesota Legislature is moving toward passage of its own minimum wage increase.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, if the federal minimum wage had kept pace with the cost of living over the past 40 years, it would be $10.74 an hour today, not $7.25
A report from the national public policy center Demos shows that better jobs at Walmart and other large retailers would help the store’s bottom line, as well as have an impact on individual families and the larger economy. A wage floor equivalent of $25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round employee for retailers with more than 1000 employees would lift 1.5 million retail workers and their families out of poverty, add to economic growth, increase retail sales and create more than 100,000 new jobs. The Demos report can be found at http://bit.ly/QRHf0m.
New polling shows that voters overwhelmingly supported the LRAA. Seventy-one percent of voters voiced their support in a survey conducted last weekend, with large majorities saying the bill would have positive effects not only on workers’ wages, but also on jobs, employment and the local economy. Additionally, 63 percent of voters said that they would be more likely to support a mayoral candidate in 2014 who supported the LRAA.
The survey of D.C. voters on the LRAA can be viewed here and you can access results by clicking here.