Surprise: D.C.’s “living wage” bill targets Wal-Mart, but could discourage other businesses

posted at 7:21 pm on July 12, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

I hate to blog too much about Washington, D.C. issues. I don’t do it out of an unhealthy attachment to the Beltway but because the city serves as such a useful illustration of liberal policies and their follies every single day. The city council passed a “living wage” bill this week that targets billion-dollar retailers with over 75,000 square feet, thereby exempting liberal-approved companies like Starbucks and Apple. It also includes a specific carve-out for union shops. The new law would require a segment of retailers that sounds suspiciously like “retailers that are Wal-Mart” to pay a minimum wage to employees of $12.50 an hour. Washington, D.C.’s current minimum wage law requires $8.25 an hour. Wal-Mart responded to this law by saying, “thanks, but no thanks” on plans for three new stores.

Mayor Vincent Gray has been wary of the law, but not said whether he’ll veto it. Now, the city’s top economic development official warns it may spook companies other than Wal-Mart:

Victor L. Hoskins, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, would not say whether he would recommend that Mayor Vincent C. Gray veto the legislation, which would require some large retailers to pay minimum wages and benefits of $12.50 an hour.

But he said its passage into law would have a “chilling impact” on retail growth in the city, driving away not only Wal-Mart — which has said it will abandon plans for three of six planned stores should the bill become law — but other national retailers considered more desirable by residents and elected officials.

“They’re killing the golden goose,” Hoskins said of city lawmakers. Though they may believe they’re targeting Wal-Mart, he added, other retailers “are concerned it may someday turn on them.”

Possibly at risk: West Coast grocery store chain Wegman’s and a Lowe’s:

Hoskins declined to name specific retailers who have expressed dismay at the council’s move. But besides the three Wal-Mart-anchored sites already known to be at risk, he said the bill could arrest development at the former Walter Reed Army Hospital site in Northwest and expansion of the Costco-anchored Shops at Dakota Crossing site along New York Avenue NE.

Wegmans, the New York-based megagrocery, has been rumored for more than a year as a possible anchor for the Walter Reed site. Lowe’s, the home improvement big-box, has been in talks to locate at Dakota Crossing.

Vincent Orange, one of the city’s pro-”living wage” politicians said: “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

Then what explains the double-digit unemployment in the very sections of D.C. these stores would have located with their hundreds of jobs? And, what is Orange doing to find better employment for those who live there?

Dave Freddoso notes new retail might have been nice, not only for shoppers who have few options in various parts of the city, but for D.C.’s egregious youth unemployment of more than 30 percent or Ward 8′s 20+ percent unemployment. He also caveats his defense of Wal-Mart against this law with an account of Wal-Mart’s lobbying for a higher minimum wage several years ago to do exactly what its competitors are trying to do to it now— muscle them out of the competition. My caveat the other night was its sometimes obnoxious use of eminent domain, but I’d forgotten about this one. Neither one of them makes the “living wage” gambit fair or good for D.C., but definitely worth remembering.


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Who needs a union when the government will set your pay?

After all, everyone pays dues to the government, whether you get benefits or not.

BobMbx on July 12, 2013 at 7:26 PM

They don’t deserve a Wegmans.

vityas on July 12, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Watch for Fu Ling Prices

Electrongod on July 12, 2013 at 7:41 PM

It is a testiment to America’s work ethic that these businesses can compete for labor with free, unmeans tested, no questions asked government hand-outs.

KW64 on July 12, 2013 at 7:46 PM

Vincent Orange, one of the city’s pro-”living wage” politicians said: “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

One of the dumbest things I’ve read all week.

MikeknaJ on July 12, 2013 at 7:47 PM

The only thing that could get Hot Air to criticize Wal-Mart would be if they started offering late-term abortions.

HB3 on July 12, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Fun to see stupid people learn things.

“Oh, you mean they aren’t going to come here no matter what laws we enact? Why how [evil] [exploitive] [racist] of them”

AZfederalist on July 12, 2013 at 7:51 PM

…SMART POWER!
.
.
.
all them damn dems are geniuses!

KOOLAID2 on July 12, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Vincent Orange, one of the city’s pro-”living wage” politicians said: “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

One of the dumbest things I’ve read all week.

MikeknaJ on July 12, 2013 at 7:47 PM

I guess that explains the massive influx of new businesses into the District – and the falling unemployment numbers.

//s//

Solaratov on July 12, 2013 at 7:53 PM

What DC needs is to eliminate the minimum wage.

Count to 10 on July 12, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Vincent Orange, one of the city’s pro-”living wage” politicians said: “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

Really? All they have to do is move across the river.

And since those were going to be ‘anchor’ stores, what of other businesses that now WON’T move into the area?

Yeah Orange, you’re a real economic brain.

GarandFan on July 12, 2013 at 7:58 PM

************** InCreMentalism CreepEth **************!!

canopfor on July 12, 2013 at 8:02 PM

HB3.

What is this thing?

wolly4321 on July 12, 2013 at 8:11 PM

Now they have nothing.
Nice job.

NeoKong on July 12, 2013 at 8:17 PM

The only thing that could get Hot Air to criticize Wal-Mart would be if they started offering late-term abortions.

HB3 on July 12, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Except for that part where they criticized Wal-Mart for its eminent domain practices, as well as lobbying for increases in the minimum wage so as to hurt its competition. But other than that, your post was accurate.

Andy in Colorado on July 12, 2013 at 8:27 PM

Walmart is paying $17/hour in N.Dakota. Not becsuse the government says so.

wolly4321 on July 12, 2013 at 8:30 PM

We shouldn’t have to like Wal-Mart, its business model, or its lobbying or employment practices to be strongly against such stupid laws – which in this case is effectively a Bill of Attainder – wherever they occur.

Adjoran on July 12, 2013 at 8:33 PM

They don’t deserve a Wegmans.

vityas on July 12, 2013 at 7:36 PM

+1

Best dang grocery store I ever saw. If they build one within 100 miles of me, I’ll be a regular customer.

Adjoran on July 12, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Wal-Mart responded to this law by saying, “thanks, but no thanks” on plans for three new stores.

He also caveats his defense of Wal-Mart against this law with an account of Wal-Mart’s lobbying for a higher minimum wage several years ago to do exactly what its competitors are trying to do to it now— muscle them out of the competition.

Yup. They’re for it when Kroger is looking to expand, but against in when they don’t feel they have any clear competition.

Wal-Mart can go suck it…as soon as I find a grocery store that bakes hot French Bread quite as nicely. ;_;

mintycrys on July 12, 2013 at 8:37 PM

It is a testiment to America’s work ethic that these businesses can compete for labor with free, unmeans tested, no questions asked government hand-outs.

KW64 on July 12, 2013 at 7:46 PM

When a family is living below the poverty level with two adults employed in service or low end retail jobs, and these jobs remain in high enough demand that employers aren’t forced to offer higher wages, then you have to recognize that the work ethic remains strong on the whole.

The most compelling reason for a higher minimum wage is the fact that food stamps and other government benefits are still needed by many fully employed families just to survive. In these situations, food stamps start looking a lot like corporate welfare.

bayam on July 12, 2013 at 8:38 PM

The most compelling reason for a higher minimum wage is the fact that food stamps and other government benefits are still needed by many fully employed families just to survive. In these situations, food stamps start looking a lot like corporate welfare.

bayam on July 12, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Yes there are 101 million Americans on food assistance programs but how many are actually in the situation described above. IOW what does many actually mean. While it is a nice piece of qualitative data for this discussion it really doesn’t have any meaning.

Obviously from the way the law was written it isn’t really about providing a living wage if it exempts all but big box employers. Ergo, what you have written doesn’t really add to the discussion about the law.

chemman on July 12, 2013 at 8:51 PM

Vincent Orange, one of the city’s pro-”living wage” politicians said: “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

No doubt very similar to what was said in Detroit during its glory years.

RJL on July 12, 2013 at 9:05 PM

This is to target walmart. IMO, if they were so worried about the “living wage” they should just up minimum wage then in the area. Not target “so big and so many employees”. how is working in a hotel cleaning anything different ? Are they not making enough money? They do not deserve this “living wage”?

look, the reason why people still need to have food stamps while even working full time is because of WHAT THE GOVERNMENT DOES via regulations and inflation. When the dollar has less buying power… you need more dollars to buy something.

Do these people just stink at simple econ 101???!!! How did they even get elected not knowing basic stuff a normal person needs to know to survive?

watertown on July 12, 2013 at 9:07 PM

bayam on July 12, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Lets talk about corn. The federal/state governments insist on having so much ethanol used. Now your taking corn away from other areas, such as feed. You need the feed to raise livestock. Now its more expensive to feed you livestock because there is less corn to use for such a thing because some of it has to be used for gas. When the price of feed goes up the farmer has to then pay more to feed… and pass the cost onto the consumers.

This is just one example. We could go on all day about stuff like this.

watertown on July 12, 2013 at 9:11 PM

When a family is living below the poverty level with two adults employed in service or low end retail jobs, and these jobs remain in high enough demand that employers aren’t forced to offer higher wages, then you have to recognize that the work ethic remains strong on the whole.

The most compelling reason for a higher minimum wage is the fact that food stamps and other government benefits are still needed by many fully employed families just to survive. In these situations, food stamps start looking a lot like corporate welfare.

Wow, the stupid is strong with this one.

Ok, having had several jobs that started me near or at minimum wage, which I hypothesize bayam has not, let do some edumifacation to ya.

1) No one stays at minimum wage if you show up on time, avoid offending customers and actually do you job for a short period of time. (Full Disclosure: I have worked three minimum wage jobs (fast food, retail help, security drone (first two simultaneously)

2) If you are trying to raise a family on minimum wage jobs, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. Put down the mind altering substances and take some farking responsibility. Learn a trade. Learn how to do a specialized service. Learn how to speak English, for Buddha’s sake. (Full disclosure: back in the 1970′s my mom was on food stamps when mom and dad divorced. She got off of it as soon as she could, even if we didn’t eat any differently.)

3) 101 million people are on food stamps because they have incentivized people to apply. A family can be earning twice the federal poverty level in wages and still qualify for SNAP.

MunDane68 on July 12, 2013 at 9:14 PM

Walmart is paying $17/hour in N.Dakota. Not becsuse the government says so.
wolly4321 on July 12, 2013 at 8:30 PM

Well then, all the DC city council had to do is
open up all if DC to fracking. I would love
to see a well in Obama’s front lawn.

redguy on July 12, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Possibly at risk: West Coast Northeast grocery store chain Wegman’s and a Lowe’s:

fixed

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a family-owned U.S. regional supermarket chain headquartered in Gates, New York, near Rochester. Wegmans has 81 stores in the mid-Atlantic region, in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Founded in 1916 in Rochester

Lost in Jersey on July 12, 2013 at 9:56 PM

When a family is living below the poverty level with two adults employed in service or low end retail jobs, and these jobs remain in high enough demand that employers aren’t forced to offer higher wages, then you have to recognize that the work ethic remains strong on the whole.

The most compelling reason for a higher minimum wage is the fact that food stamps and other government benefits are still needed by many fully employed families just to survive. In these situations, food stamps start looking a lot like corporate welfare.

bayam on July 12, 2013 at 8:38 PM

You really are an idiot.
Any person who shows up for work on time, not drunk, stoned or hungover, and does their job well will not be at minimum wage for more than 6 months, maybe a year – and that should be high school kids, not a couple WITH kids.
Hard cold truth is a lot of people are too stupid, lazy, irresponsible, or just plain immoral/unethical to even be worth minimum wage. If you’re stuck at minimum wage for more than a year – first you shouldn’t be having kids, and second you need to look in the mirror to find out what’s wrong.

dentarthurdent on July 12, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Walmart is paying $17/hour in N. Dakota. Not because the government says so.

wolly4321 on July 12, 2013 at 8:30 PM

That’s right – it’s because a free labor market works – something bayam doesn’t have the slightest clue about.

dentarthurdent on July 12, 2013 at 10:13 PM

The city council passed a “living wage” bill this week that targets billion-dollar retailers with over 75,000 square feet, thereby exempting liberal-approved companies like Starbucks and Apple.

Who works at Apple and Starbucks (college kids) and who works at a big box retailer ? Who shops at a higher end retailer and who pushes a huge cart around a Walmart peddling cheaper goods? Apple and Starbucks draw largely educated, upper-middle class consumers — Walmart does not.

It’s a class issue. It’s a “what’s best for gentrification” issue.

Punchenko on July 12, 2013 at 10:37 PM

DC is kidding itself if it thinks retailers need it more than DC needs them. No store needs to set up shop in an inner city neighborhood that has half the income per household of a suburban neighborhood.

Tantor on July 12, 2013 at 11:17 PM

When a family is living below the poverty level with two adults employed in service or low end retail jobs, and these jobs remain in high enough demand that employers aren’t forced to offer higher wages, then you have to recognize that the work ethic remains strong on the whole.

The most compelling reason for a higher minimum wage is the fact that food stamps and other government benefits are still needed by many fully employed families just to survive. In these situations, food stamps start looking a lot like corporate welfare.

bayam on July 12, 2013 at 8:38 PM

You really are an idiot.
Any person who shows up for work on time, not drunk, stoned or hungover, and does their job well will not be at minimum wage for more than 6 months, maybe a year – and that should be high school kids, not a couple WITH kids.
Hard cold truth is a lot of people are too stupid, lazy, irresponsible, or just plain immoral/unethical to even be worth minimum wage. If you’re stuck at minimum wage for more than a year – first you shouldn’t be having kids, and second you need to look in the mirror to find out what’s wrong.

dentarthurdent on July 12, 2013 at 10:11 PM

No, I think he actually has a point here. I don’t believe in government-mandated wages, however. Also, if the pay is that bad, then don’t apply.

But you can’t sit there and tell me that everyone out there making minimum wage is lazy and worthless. There are many hard-working, responsible people who have lost their jobs and have to settle for less. My God, one third of the country is on food stamps-when the number reaches half and later more than half, you would still want to make that argument?

I think what he said about corporate welfare is a distinct possibility, and certainly not a new one directed particularly at Wal-Mart.

I firmly believe (though I don’t want to) that our economic system is steadily crumbling and will never fully recover. I can blame the Marxists only so much for this. Much of the rest has to do with corporations becoming mega-corporations. How can there be true free enterprise if it is indeed a rigged game?

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 12, 2013 at 11:21 PM

But its the Marxists rigging the game …

Arssanguinus on July 12, 2013 at 11:44 PM

The most compelling reason for a higher minimum wage is the fact that food stamps and other government benefits are still needed by many fully employed families just to survive. In these situations, food stamps start looking a lot like corporate welfare.

bayam on July 12, 2013 at 8:38 PM

A business has the responsibility to offer a wage that will incentivize someone to take a specific job. The worker has the option to accept it or not. If the worker accepts the wage then they accept the responsibility of that decision.

An expanding economy always forces wages higher as employers are forced to compete for workers. Rather than staring at the minimum wage, maybe libs should focus on the things that grow the economy and create jobs, and then rejoice as wages grow on their own.

Minimum wage is where libs go when they realize they have no clue how to grow an economy.

Look at North Dakota and you’ll get quite an education on job and wage growth.

goflyers on July 13, 2013 at 12:03 AM

“We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

John Galt to the white courtesy phone.

Once again, liberals prove a few things about their idiotic positions:

1) They assume that everyone who works at Wal-Mart is going to be there forever, never getting a raise or a promotion (and they feel this way about every entry-level job); they just assume the people who hold them are never going to do better.

2) They would rather push businesses out for paying minimum wage, meaning the hundreds of people who would have a job have no income. Just like unions who choose unemployment over making concessions.

3) They believe tax revenue magically comes from this realm where the “rich” dwell, and that it’s a limitless resource to fund government. The fail to realize when the business “go Galt”, the tax money goes with them.

englishqueen01 on July 13, 2013 at 12:14 AM

HB3 on July 12, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Hmmm. You didn’t read MKH’s post from a couple of nights ago. I would recommend that.

22044 on July 13, 2013 at 1:50 AM

But its the Marxists rigging the game …

Arssanguinus on July 12, 2013 at 11:44 PM

Even back in the days of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgan, the formation of the Federal Reserve? I doubt it.

Surely they’re involved with Corporate Fascism now so they can take over, but it wasn’t just the Socialists. Everything bad that happens isn’t due solely to the Socialists. Capitalism got out of balance and the Socialists are certainly pressing down on the scales with their thumbs.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 13, 2013 at 2:19 AM

As we’ve grown the food stamp and other assistance programs into the monster welfare state that it is today, we have a resulting record numbers of recipients.

We can find the same thing occurring in nature; the internet is replete with postings about the bird feeder allegory.

Hey you fool libs/Marxists: Why do you claim this is “compassion”?
You sons-of-shedogs are amplifying the very problems that you claim you want to solve. Do you also try to quench fires with gasoline and take credit as champion firefighters? Stay away from my house!

Today, the liberals that helm the US government foster a corrupt culture of generational, continuous dependence on handouts, and an entitlement/victim mentality. “Why dost thou sputter, drowning man? Did I not give thee a hearty drink of water and a fine anchor?”

Private
aid to those truly in need is the answer… Americans are a very generous people and don’t mind helping the truly unfortunate, but taking our money by force and giving it out to those that eagerly “game” the system without a shred of guilt, all via ill-conceived, inefficient and ineffective programs isn’t called compassion, it’s actually bondage.

E-R

electric-rascal on July 13, 2013 at 2:30 AM

Give me some of that new time clean DC government courtesy of the ever reliable Marion De Barry:

http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/12/dc-council-consider-sanctions-against-marion-barry/

Sherman1864 on July 13, 2013 at 6:10 AM

If anyone doubts Walmart’s power to destroy small local independent businesses and transform communities into a shadow of their previous selves, I have a perfect case study for you: the corner of Fernández Juncos and Todd Avenues here in my town. Two years ago, both Fernández Juncos and Todd were an urban paradise of burned out, abandoned buildings, streetlights stripped for copper, holes so deep you had to dodge them in traffic, and a dilapidated gas station that everyone knew was a drug point and prostitution center. All up and down the street, happy bums coexisted peacefully along with a couple of last hold-out businesses. It wasn’t urban blight, it was urban collapse. Then came Walmart. They went up the street and bought a lot that had been a Superfund site since the 1980s, when Amoco left it full of dioxin waste. They spent $200 million reclaiming it and built a really nice, modern, two-story Walmart Supercenter. The Supercenter has its own six-story parking garage on top. Now two years later, just as the Walmart opened, the neighborhood has been devastated. Across from the Walmart, a gleaming new 24/7 Walgreens anchors the corner. The gas station has been sold to Puma, an ominous international corporation that has cleaned it up, kicked out the bums and drug dealers, and even added a car wash. All up and down the street, little businesses have opened. A nice pizzeria, several hair salons, a few office buildings, a lawyer, a little furniture and appliances store, a glass company, a Jaguar dealership, even a little independent school of gastronomy. The city has cleaned up the roads and fixed the lights. And so just in two years, Walmart has muscled their way into what was a proud community of bag ladies and pimps with a rich history of drugs, prostitution, begging, filth, and murder, and has transformed the entire two block area into one where educated young people are moving in to rehabilitate the old abandoned houses and turn it into another mixed-use, upscale community. Damn Walmart.

JoseQuinones on July 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

What DC needs is to eliminate the minimum wage.

Count to 10 on July 12, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Both in the city, and everywhere else.

Hmmm. You didn’t read MKH’s post from a couple of nights ago. I would recommend that.

22044 on July 13, 2013 at 1:50 AM

Or, he could just read to the end of this one. Sheesh.

MunDane68 on July 12, 2013 at 9:14 PM
dentarthurdent on July 12, 2013 at 10:11 PM
dentarthurdent on July 12, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Well said.

GWB on July 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

As to this law – I think someone should challenge it under equal protection. Force the city – in court – to show how the qualifications they set for the higher wage in any way justify it, IOW why only this sort of retailer should pay that higher wage. In a just court, the law would get slapped down hard. (Yeah, yeah, I know…..)

Of course, that won’t happen anyway – since the only folks who would have any standing to sue would be … WalMart. And, only if they have a store there affected by the law. I’m sure they really don’t want to waste all that money just to make a point, especially when all they really have to do is abandon their plans in that locale.

GWB on July 13, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Vincent Orange, one of the city’s pro-”living wage” politicians said: “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

One of the dumbest things I’ve read all week.

MikeknaJ on July 12, 2013 at 7:47 PM

I love it when they let their mask slip off. It is dumb but it demonstrates that the left is all about power. They don’t care at all for people. The results of their policies speak for themselves.

jukin3 on July 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Having grown up dirt poor and the family sometimes on welfare let me just say this;
If you have a 55 inch flatscreen on the wall
If you have a vehicle in your driveway that is newer than 2003
If you have, cable, internet, and multiple cell phones
If you….
You get the point. Today people scream about poverty and they live like kings and queens. Is there real abject poverty in this country, yes but it is not as wide spread as some would have you believe. If 50% of those on SNAP right now were to lose those bennies tomorrow they would not starve to death, they might and I mean might have to alter they’re lifestyle somewhat. Most likely not even significant changes either.

Not until this society starts making serious changes we are truely scroomed as a nation.

D-fusit on July 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Because with Democrats, it’s always about incrementalism. THey start out with the hated Walmart, but all employers, who make a profit, are hated too. It will never end until there’s not a retail outlet in Washington D.C.

bflat879 on July 13, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Wow, who could have seen this coming?

Chris of Rights on July 13, 2013 at 2:30 PM

We shouldn’t have to like Wal-Mart, its business model, or its lobbying or employment practices to be strongly against such stupid laws – which in this case is effectively a Bill of Attainder – wherever they occur.

Adjoran on July 12, 2013 at 8:33 PM

Here’s a companion piece on what happens when you have
no respect for law at all
:

AesopFan on July 13, 2013 at 11:25 PM

Time to leave town. Let them go shopping in Maryland. Like roaches will never stop coming back for more.

RdLake on July 14, 2013 at 8:55 PM