WASHINGTON — City Council here on Wednesday voted to pass a bill that would require large retailers to pay a higher minimum wage – a day after Wal-Mart Stores said it would back out of at least three planned stores in the city if the bill passed.
“Like any business, we have a responsibility to our customers, employees and shareholders to reevaluate our options when it looks as if local rules may significantly change. The [Large Retailer Accountability Act] would clearly inject unforeseen costs into the equation that would create an uneven playing field and challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores,” Alex Barron, a regional manager for Wal-Mart, Bentonville, Ark., said in an editorial published in the Washington Post earlier this week.
The legislation would require retailers operating stores of more than 75,000 square feet and recording more than $1 billion in annual sales to pay a minimum wage of $12.50 an hour. The current minimum hourly wage in Washington is $8.25.
Barron said Wal-Mart would not pursue stores planned in Skyland, Capitol Gateway or New York Avenue as previously announced.
“What’s more, passage would also jeopardize the three stores already under construction, as we would thoroughly review the financial and legal implications of the bill on those projects,” Barron said.
The measure passed by a vote of 8-to-5 – one fewer vote than required to override a potential veto, reports said. Wal-Mart has urged mayor Vincent Gray – a supporter of Wal-Mart’s plans to build stores in the district – to veto the bill if passed.