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Washington, DC, Mayor Vincent Gray
Will Mayor Vincent Gray try to block a minimum wage raise as he runs for reelection?
After coming within one vote of a veto-proof majority for a bill that would have required big box stores to pay a $12.50 living wage, the Washington, DC, city council unanimously supported raising the city's minimum wage to $11.50 by 2016 and tying it to inflation, in a preliminary vote Tuesday.

Despite the fact that many states and cities have raised the minimum wage without seeing jobs flee across nearby borders to places with the low federal minimum wage of $7.25, proponents of poverty wages always claim that's what's going to happen. That may be particularly true in Washington, DC, as a small urban zone sandwiched between two states, and one with such a high density of industry lobbyists—but in this case, there's a twist involving two neighboring counties in Maryland:

By coordinating with lawmakers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which approved similar measures late last month, the council put the three localities on the cusp of creating a contiguous region with 2.5 million residents and a minimum wage higher than any of the 50 states.
The Washington measure is expected to pass a final vote easily and, if Mayor Vincent Gray vetoes it, the votes should be there for a veto override. So after all its hissy fits about the possibility of having to pay DC workers $12.50, Walmart will likely have to pay $11.50.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 02:07 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I doubt he will this time- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, salmo

    He's running for reelection...very difficult to see him go against this bill even though he only wanted a $10 min wage

    •  Bingo. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Just what I was going to say. Funny how some politicians love helping folks when it's their own livelihood on the line.

      •  He is better than Fenty's acolytes. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hastur, HappyinNM

        Including the woman who will challenge Grey and also likely bring back people like Michelle Rhee.

        Gray needs to endorse the increase in minimum wage no question, but locally it is important to understand that we have some very nefarious politics in play here these days.

        •  Fenty's acolytes (0+ / 0-)

          Already have the DLC technocrat crowd. It's bad politics to go against the interests -- and the overwhelming preference -- of the voters in the neighborhoods that put him in the job. This is a winning issue.

          “Republicans...think American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” Harry S. Truman

          by fenway49 on Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 04:45:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  March Elrich of Montgomery County... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whenwego, salmo, Egalitare, IndieGuy, eyesoars

    ...told me last year he wanted to help coordinate a regional minimum wage boost. So far that strategy appears to be working. Now on to Northern VA.

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 02:24:37 PM PST

    •  Arlington Count could certainly follow suit. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TofG, fcvaguy

      Maybe Fairfax. Get out to Loudoun and Prince William, though, and fuggedaboutit.

      •  Don't forget... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church!  I think it's even betting in Loudoun, Prince William, and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

        •  Dillon Rule gets in the way (0+ / 0-)

          Unfortunately, Virginia has a thing called the Dillon Rule, which says that counties and cities are not allowed to do anything unless they are specifically authorized by the state.  

          So no matter how badly we want to raise the minimum wage in Arlington (so that minimum wage workers can actually afford to live here), we have to get the veto-proof Republican majority in the House to let us govern ourselves.  Unfortunately that's not likely to happen...

    •  And to the whole state of Maryland (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llywrch, DSPS owl, caryltoo

      This will be introduced in the Maryland General Assembly when it meets in January.  We have healthy greater than 2/3 Democratic majorities in both houses, and Governor O'Malley supports it too.  The legislature elected in 2010 has given us gun control, repeal of the death penalty, marriage equality and the Dream Act, so raising the minimum wage should be doable.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 06:28:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The regional approach has been effective (5+ / 0-)

    at persuading local lawmakers.

    Very proud of our local counties in MD.  This should be very good for small businesses in my area who try to pay decent wages and have to compete against big box stores that don't.

    Now, on to getting online retailers to pay the proper, legally binding sales taxes (Amazon pays in VA, but not in MD), and getting the whole state of MD to go along with this new consensus.

  •  CPI is too low, index minimum wage to AWI (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The AWI, or Average Wage Index, is the index used to adjust Social Security earnings, and bend points, such as the covered earnings cap.

    The average wage normally increases faster than inflation.  Indexing to inflation means the minimum wage will shrink as a fraction of the average wage.  Because it is indexed, getting a manual increase in the minimum wage will be harder.

    In fact, because minimum wage has been allowed to shrink over time, even indexing to AWI will not restore the historical relationship between the wealth of our society and the minimum wage.  Indexing to GDP/capita until the minimum wage slowly reaches a predefined level (say the poverty level for a family of 4, or half the median wage, or specific fraction of GDP/capita) would ensure that productivity gains are passed thru to workers at the bottom.  After reaching the predetermined level, indexing to productivity would maintain that level.

    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL.

    by benamery21 on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 05:20:35 PM PST

  •  But but what if Wal*Mart LEAVES? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If they leave D.C. or don't come in the first place, they will be depriving D.C. of all those 11.50-an-hour jobs which will hurt the economy much more than if the economy lost lower-paying jobs. The only solution is to LOWER the minimum wage to zero so if a business leaves or doesn't come, the economy will be protected.  Hey, this is fun! Can I be on FOX?

    •  What if WalMart can't find people who can (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      barbwires, HappyinNM, llywrch

      afford to take their pay in DC?

      Our minimum wage should be higher and set by government, but people should be aware that the economics of living in this city do not lend themselves to people making poor wages.  I think that this is going to be an interesting experiment with WalMart.

      People at that level of pay used to live in SE, now they are living in places like Bowie which can be as much as two hours outside of the city by public or private transport.  The cost of the transport factors in.  The difficulty of the commute wears on people.

      Ultimately, I think that we are going to see laborers opting to go for jobs closer to home especially when their hourly wage does not cover their expenses.  

      Which in the end, undermines Mayor Gray and any others' foolish dreams of helping stores like Walmart's costs low - and also undermines the tax revenue they thought they were protecting with their anti-worker policies.

  •  A bargain! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HappyinNM, mconvente, YellerDog

    $12.50 employees on sale for $11.50

  •  best thing about this decision (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HappyinNM, llywrch

    it pist off WalMart

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 06:02:59 PM PST

  •  life begins @ $11.50/hour (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    milkbone, HappyinNM

    it tebble, it hobble; honey lu been shot. - harvey kurtzman

    by renzo capetti on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 06:13:09 PM PST

  •  This nonsense about fewer hires if the minimum (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    wage is raised needs to be stopped. Employers don't hire people to fill up space. They hire people because they need people to do the work. Either they need x number employees or they don't. The amount it costs to have those employees doesn't change that.

    •  It affects how attractive automation is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Much more attractive to automate away $15/hr jobs than $8/hr jobs. For example, self-checkout, computerized fast food ordering, etc.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 06:40:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If they were willing to ship jobs out of the (0+ / 0-)

        country to save money, they'd be willing to automate. There are jobs that robots can't do. They already have computerized fast food ordering. People (customers) like to talk to people.

        •  They already have computerized ordering (0+ / 0-)

          It is kept in check by the fact that comparatively low cost workers make automation less attractive.

          If you double the cost of workers, employers will sharpen their pencils. Even if people vaguely "like to talk to people" that market demand isn't going to survive the onslaught that $15/hr represents.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 09:17:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Fast food automation is already here (0+ / 0-)

        Jack In the Box has tested an automated order taker here in Olympia WA but it didn't go over well.  Of course during the test you could still place your order with a worker but they did prove that traditional cashiers aren't necessary.  As long as their customers can read the menu and make simple choices very little different from using an ATM the could do away with the order-taker/cashier.  And you have to bet there there are engineers out there working on how to automate the whole burger flipping process.  If they can use robots to build a new car in less than an hour with only a couple of machine operators I see no reason to believe that someone can't figure out how to make and serve a hamburger.  

        For this reason I choose to never use self checkout anywhere.  In a sense it's a form of scab labor if you will.  I'll wait a few minutes longer and give someone a job rather than use the machine.  

        A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

        by YellerDog on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 09:11:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I support higher minimum wages, but I accept (0+ / 0-)

      the fact that higher minimum wages do decrease employment when a significant portion of the workforce make minimum wage.

      An estimate of 1 to 2% decrease in employment for min wage wage workers for a 10% increase in the minimum wage is a good general estimate.  On average this is a gain for low wage workers.  Those hurt by increased unemployment will be concentrated among workers who find getting employed most difficult.

      Thinking that the increase in cost of any business input does not change the quantity purchased over the medium and long term is just wishful thinking.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 11:31:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very good news (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to see Arlington/Alexandria/Falls Church/Fairfax County/Fairfax also join in on raising the minimum wage. But, I believe the Virginia constitution doesn't allow cities/counties to do this on their own. Not sure.

  •  Its pathetic that $11.50 in three years has to be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    considered a victory. The efforts that many put into these increases aren't unappreciated, however.

    "Its always better to be shot from a cannon than squeezed from a tube" Hunter S. Thompson

    by hooktool on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 07:25:22 PM PST

  •  WA state minimum $9.32 in 2014. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fenway49, nextstep

    The minimum wage in our state is currently $9.19 and will adjust for inflation on Jan 1 to $9.32 which is still the highest in the nation.  The Sea-Tac vote to approve $15.00 has been certified.  We won by 77 votes but a recount is expected.  

    Clarification:  I've seen it written that the vote for a $15 wage was in Seattle.  This is not true.  The small city of Sea-Tac incorporates the airport and surrounding area.  It's about 10 miles outside the Seattle City limits.  The new minimum wage mostly only relates to airport workers and hospitality workers who serve it which is pretty much all Sea-Tac is about.

    However the newly elected Seattle Mayor supports a living wage minimum wage so you can expect to hear more from that as time goes on.  

    A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

    by YellerDog on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 08:59:12 PM PST

  •  Local Min Wage makes sense, National does not (0+ / 0-)

    The way the DC region is going is the way that makes sense.

    If minimum wages are to be based on the cost of living, then the minimum wage needs to reflect the local cost of living - which varies greatly in the US.

    Taking Tulsa, OK as the base - as it is one of the lowest cost of living cities in the US, if Tulsa has a min wage of $7.25 then DC should be $11.85/hr based on the CNN lost of living calculator at

    So the $11.50/hr chosen by DC will make it comparable to what Tulsa is today.

    Ironically, the cities that are most out-of-wack on minimum wage adjusted for cost of living are run by Democrats.

    Consider NYC, to match the cost of living $7.25/min wage in Tulsa, NYC should have a min wage of $18.53/hr.  Starting Dec 31, 2013 NYC min wage is increased to only a shameful $8/hr - not even half of what it should be.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 11:19:18 AM PST

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