Walmart Shrugs: Pulls Plans to Build Stores in Washington, D.C.

By:  Bob Adelmann
Walmart Shrugs: Pulls Plans to Build Stores in Washington, D.C.

If Washington D.C.'s Mayor Vincent Gray doesn't veto a discriminatory minimum-wage law targeted at Walmart, the retailer is likely to shrug, and find other friendlier places to do business.

Writing in the Washington Post on Tuesday, Walmart’s regional general manager Alex Barron told Washington, D.C.’s city council that if they voted to pass the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA), his company would “not pursue [building] stores at Skyland, Capitol Gateway or New York Avenue” shopping centers, and they would “thoroughly review” their interest in completing three other stores near completion elsewhere in the district.

The LRAA was dreamed up by council member Vincent Orange, chairman of the Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Committee and first introduced earlier this year by council member Phil Mendelson. In its original form, it called for large retailers (such as Walmart) to pay a minimum “living” wage of $11.75 an hour to its employees, instead of the district’s current minimum wage of $8.25 an hour. It was designed to target Walmart, but it was later revised to mandate a $12.50 an hour minimum wage and would apply to any retail outlet affiliated with a parent company with annual revenues of $1 billion or more. That would then impact other retailers, such as Target, Nike, Apple, Costco, Macy’s, and Home Depot, as well. The new rule would apply to existing retailers already in place within two years.

Said Barron:

For almost three years, Wal-Mart has worked on a plan to bring new stores to Washington, and we are close to opening our first location in the city….

In November 2010, Wal-Mart announced a plan to bring more jobs, shopping options and fresh food choices to Washington’s residents. Just 12 months ago, we increased our investment — from four stores to six and from 1, 200 jobs to 1,800 — in an effort to expand access and opportunity to more under-served communities in the city.

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