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Rally at a Walmart in North Reading, Massachusetts, Black Friday 2012.
As we wait for Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray to decide whether to sign or veto the Large Retailer Accountability Act passed by the city council, business lobby groups are insisting that DC's push to make big box stores pay a living wage of $12.50 an hour is an isolated occurrence, not a sign of things to come:
“This fight in D.C. is being driven by local D.C. politics more than a national agenda,” David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, told POLITICO.

Justin Wilson of the business-funded Center for Union Facts said he believes no national movement will come from the D.C. battle. “I don’t foresee (a national movement) happening,” Wilson said.

Right, and the fight that kept Walmart out of Brooklyn last year was driven by local New York City politics, and the fight to keep Walmart out of Chinatown in Los Angeles is driven by local Los Angeles politics, and the failed effort—passed by the city council and vetoed by then-Mayor Richard Daley—to institute a similar large retailer living wage in Chicago as Walmart was moving in was driven by local Chicago politics. Point being, as Walmart tries to move into cities, the politics are different from its traditional suburban and rural locations. So the whole "just an isolated thing, not going to be replicated anywhere" insistence rings a little hollow.

That's not to say Walmart doesn't have the power to push itself into many cities, as it did Chicago. But the opposition is a lot more organized. And with good reason. Trying to move into D.C., Walmart went on a charm offensive, donating millions of dollars to local charities and talking up the great jobs it would allegedly create. But:

[Living wage organizer Mike] Wilson says that activists and community leaders met with Wal-Mart representatives soon after the company announced its intentions to move into D.C., but that it became clear Wal-Mart had no interest in negotiating any kind of binding agreement concerning workers’ wages or benefits. Wal-Mart may have told a group of church leaders it would pay $13 an hour, but on other occasions, the company cited its average pay of $12.78 to activists—a number that made Wilson and others suspicious. That figure, which excludes part-time workers and includes department managers, is highly disputed.
Walmart can't be trusted, so Walmart faces a fight. In fact, Walmart drives wages down for workers at other retailers in areas where Walmart stores open, so a $12.50 minimum wage at Walmart and other large retailers in Washington, D.C., would help protect wages at existing smaller stores.

Tell Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray that his city's big box workers deserve a living wage.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:49 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No national movement? That's what folks said (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when the first states rolled out TRAP laws (which hare now being abused out at the local town council level).

    Never say never, Walmart.  You too, gun and ammo sellers.

    "We don't analyze the behavioural traits of people who carry weapons. We're looking for terrorists," -- TSA spokesman.

    by here4tehbeer on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:16:26 AM PDT

  •  No organized fight against Walmart? (0+ / 0-)

    What about the Maryland Fair Share act? Had the law not been struck down in federal court, it would have required Walmart to spend 8% of its payroll on health insurance or else pay the difference into the state Medicaid fund.

  •  I'm not sure what is in the new LRAA says but (0+ / 0-)

    once a large retailer goes it should not be allowed back in the district for say 30 years or so. This would allow the mom and pop shops to reopen without fear that the behemoth would change it's mind and move back in, again putting small retail...well, back in the street.



    by FakeNews on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:48:34 AM PDT

    •  Retailers of olde (0+ / 0-)

      We, as Americans and Retailers, made Walmart what it is. It was also one of the first non-sexist retailers as well.  Why do I say this?  Most retailers (outside of Waltmart) up to the late 80's only opened there doors from 9am til 5pm.  They depended on and required women to be stay at home Moms, or required Men and Women to take Vacation days to shop.  

      Walmart saw the growing role of women outside the home and the dual income home and catered to them. By in Large small retailers did not and eventually went out of buisness because of it. If retailed just modified hours to stay open until 8pm, or even 6pm, Walmart would not be the powerhouse it is today.  Sam Waltons position was always that they would take the customers other retailers could not be bothered with.  It turns out a there were a lot of customers retailers could not be bothered with.  

      Most Hardware and automotive stores still stay in buisness, even with Walmart.  Why is that? Most of the products they sell overlap. The difference is that those stores catered to men and stayed open later (til 6 or 7 pm) so they could visit after work.

  •  The only problem I have with the bill... (0+ / 0-)

    Is that it doesn't and won't affect stores already in place, only new stores. The law is effectively an anti-Walmart law, not a living wage law.

    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

    by Phoenix Rising on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:03:02 PM PDT

    •  That isn't true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phoenix Rising

      The law applies to ALL merchants based upon store square footage (greater than 75,000 sq ft) and annual revenues (greater than $1 billion).  Some stores like Apple retail stores are exempt based on square footage.  

      For existing stores, like Best Buy and Target, there is a four year period before it applies.

      The sequester is the new Republican immigration reform plan. Make things so bad here in the US that no one will want to live here.

      by Mote Dai on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:30:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay - good to know (0+ / 0-)

        The NPR story the other day "detailed" the bill, but neglected the phase-in period for existing stores.

        In that case, I like the bill more. Still, a universal four-year phase-in that didn't single out new stores would have made it less obviously an anti-Walmart piece of legislation.

        I won't shop at Walmart, but what's good for the goose is good for the gander: if targeting Planned Parenthood by inference is bad, so is targeting Walmart - or even retailers - by inference. Pass a living wage law that applies to all large employers; do it right, not for the political motivation of singling out Walmart.

        Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

        by Phoenix Rising on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 11:13:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why should a small business... (0+ / 0-) able to pay their workers less? Are workers at small businesses second class citizens?

  •  I doubt it (0+ / 0-)

    Usually, when a local government keeps Walmart out, it just opens a store right over the town line in the next jurisdiction.

    For example, there are no Walmarts in NYC, but there is one right over the Queens/Nassau line in Valley Stream. Somebody will want the property tax revenue.

    •  Walmart is adept lowering local tax burdens (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Duckman GR

      Walmart is well known for fighting local taxes or getting tax breaks to build in an area.

      The sequester is the new Republican immigration reform plan. Make things so bad here in the US that no one will want to live here.

      by Mote Dai on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:33:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If their voters didn't agree... (0+ / 0-)

        ...with these tax breaks, wouldn't you expect the politicians responsible to not be reelected (or, perhaps, even recalled). Virtually everyone in the US lives in a representative democracy -- are voters to be ignored?

        You or I may find tax breaks inappropriate, but obviously at least 50% of the voters in areas that grant them agree with them.

        Should there be some "voters are stupid, so we should ignore them" override (of course they are mostly stupid, ignorant, and uneducated, but we picked a representative democracy hundreds of years ago that lets them vote). Deal with it, move to Saudi Arabia, or change the United States Constitution to create an elite ruling class if our system isn't appropriate.

        •  Did you even READ the link?? (0+ / 0-)

          The sequester is the new Republican immigration reform plan. Make things so bad here in the US that no one will want to live here.

          by Mote Dai on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:17:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes,... (0+ / 0-)

            ...I was responding to the

            or getting tax breaks to build in an area.
            half of your comment and to the mention of tax breaks in the article.

            City/count/state politicians who give out these tax breaks are elected by their constituents. So, they answer to their constituents when they give these tax breaks. If their constituents intensely disliked the tax breaks, the politicians voting for them would be replaced by those who would not give such breaks. If politicians fail to keep their promises not to give tax breaks, the voters can effect change by getting the city/county charter or state constitution changed to require that voters approve all such tax breaks at the polls.

            It's a logical conclusion that the majority of voters are not very alarmed by these tax breaks or the breaks wouldn't exist. To assume otherwise is insulting the intelligence of voters.

      •  I looked up the taxes that Nassau County Walmart (0+ / 0-)


        It took a bit of searching but I found it:

        $415,459.29 in general taxes and $1,128,468.56 in school taxes, for a total of  $1,543,927.85 if my arithmetic is correct. There are no exemptions listed. This on a fair market value of $18,000,000. That is 8.5% of the value per year -- an unbelievably high property tax rate! Its property taxes would be much lower in NYC.

        If you'd like to confirm it, the property is Section 39     Block 553  Lot 9, in the Town of Hempstead and Valley Stream School District.

        Address    77 Green Acres Rd, Valley Stream, 11580


  •  Speaking of labor... (0+ / 0-)

    in response to the NYT story that premiums will fall by 50% in New York, I've seen several right-wingers post the exact same link in response to that, claiming that the Teamsters hate Obamacare in order to discredit it.  (As if they care about the Teamsters.)

    What's going on here?

  •  Center for Union Facts?! (0+ / 0-)

    Read some of their "facts" and try not to scream.

    Money doesn't talk it swears.

    by Coss on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:19:16 PM PDT

  •  Hm. I woud say it *is* local because it's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    local governments who are making these decisions.

    The fact that it's happening everywhere that want to go in the entire country is a consequence of every locality finally understanding the true cost of having WalMart in their communities. It costs more than it brings value.


    All politics is local.

  •  Hey! (0+ / 0-)

    What about NYC??? Even conservative Staten Island didn't want them! I'd say NYC has done pretty well as an example for the nation for keeping WalMart out.

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. NYC's Progressive/Reform Blog

    by mole333 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:41:59 PM PDT

  •  If (0+ / 0-)

    If the local retailers are all already paying workers better than a living wage, why would the law only apply to "Big Box" stores? Why not require all companies in DC, reguardless of size, pay a living wage?

  •  It is an interesting situation (0+ / 0-)

    In order to get approval to build the three stores in the nicer areas of the city, Walmart basically promised to build three in much poorer sections of the District.  They probably never wanted to build those stores anyway and construction hasn't started at those sites (unlike the other stores in the nicer areas that have started construction).

    It is expected that the Mayor will veto the bill.  Walmart is backing a group that is against the wage bill and has started "polling" in DC to show support for building the stores.  I haven't read any details about the poll...or if it is actually a push poll tactic.

    I am sure that Walmart will spend some big bucks on this just so other communities don't get a similar idea.

    Even in PG County Walmart is looking to build more stores.  I got a phone poll about it.  I said HELL NO!  The whole poll was focused around "we need to give people better vegetable and food shopping!"  OK, then how about another Wegmans and a couple Trader Joes?

    The sequester is the new Republican immigration reform plan. Make things so bad here in the US that no one will want to live here.

    by Mote Dai on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:24:40 PM PDT

  •  It is, of course, absurd... (0+ / 0-)

    ...if the minimum/working wage doesn't apply to EVERY business. What is less important about a worker at a independent gas station or a small housecleaning service than a worker at Walmart?

    Small businesses account for a large proportion of the jobs in the US. Why should their workers be ignored?

    Small businesses abuse their workers every day -- and get away with it. In part, this is because lawyers and politicians don't see any money in combating it. You will never get millions of dollars of settlement money or political "hay" from picking on an independent gas station, but you might get hundreds of millions from picking on Walmart. Of course, in both cases, the worker usually gets little or nothing.

    Why is it okay to abuse workers on a retail basis but not a wholesale basis?

    A small scented candle shop should be held to the same standards as Walmart. The morality is no different.

    That's something that's always perplexed me about the PPACA - why the exemption for small employers? If it's morally appropriate for employers to provide insurance or pay fines for not doing so, why would small businesses (amongst the largest employers in the US) be exempt?

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