Despite Wal-Mart threatening to pull the plug on its planned expansion in Washington D.C., the city council approved a bill on Wednesday mandating certain large retailers, including Wal-Mart, raise its minimum wage from $8.25 to $12.50 an hour.
The legislation, known as the Large Retailer Accountability Act, passed in an 8-5 vote. It requires stores with sales of at least $1 billion and that are at least 75,000 square feet to raise their minimum wage. It offers exceptions for unionized companies, which is why critics of the bill charge that it targets Wal-Mart, which does not allow its workers to unionize.
Wal-Mart had threatened to pull three of its six planned D.C. stores if the bill passed. It is yet to been seen if D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who called Wal-Mart’s ultimatum “utterly discouraging,” will veto the bill. He has 10 days to decide.
Walmart regional general manager Alex Barron asked Gray to veto the bill in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Tuesday.
“The LRAA 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,” he wrote.
On Wednesday’s Hardball, David Madland, the Director of the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress, argued that workers need to make enough so that they aren’t dependent on the government.
“The typical Wal-Mart store, because of the very low wages it pays its workers, is a burden to government, to taxpayers, of about a million dollars in aid that they need to provide,” he said.
Stephen Moore, the senior economics writer on the Wall Street Journal editorial board, argued on Hardball that Wal-Mart helps low income workers by offering such low prices and that a wage at $8.50 per hour is better than no job at all.
“If you look at the history of every government intervention program and social welfare program to abate poverty, there’s probably been no greater poverty abatement program in the history of this country greater than Wal-Mart, because Wal-Mart has raised living standards of poor people by making everything from toothpaste to diapers to cell phones much more affordable to them,” he said.
Watch the video above for more.