North America

Walmart threatens to cancel plans for DC stores


Walmart, the U.S. largest retailer, has threatened District lawmakers not to open at least three of its planned stores in the city if a super-minimum-wage proposal becomes law.

A team of Walmart officials and lobbyists informed the D.C. Council members of their decision on Tuesday, the Washington Post reports.

Local lawmakers are working to approve the bill that would force the retailer to pay its employees at least $12.50 an hour, compared to D.C.’s current minimum wage of $8.25.

Walmart has worked for the past three years on a plan to bring new stores to Washington. It currently has three new stores under construction in the city.

Alex Barron, a regional general manager for the company, criticized the bill in an op-ed that was published in the Post on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, the District may soon adopt legislation that discriminates against business and threatens to undo all that we have accomplished together,” he wrote in his article.

He also wrote that Walmart feels the proposed “living wage” legislation “would clearly inject unforeseen costs into the equation that will create an uneven playing field and challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores.”

The bill, backed by worker advocates and unions, applies only to stores doing business in spaces of 75,000 feet or more.

Council member Yvette M. Alexander, who represents Ward 7, an area where two of the Walmart stores were set to be built, said she was upset by Walmart’s decision.

“That means back to the drawing board for Ward 7 unless there’s a vote in opposition,” she said. “This is going to just about ruin two major development plans in Ward 7, where we were counting on a major anchor retailer to bring more retail and 600 jobs in a ward where unemployment is at its highest.”

The D.C. Council plans to vote on the bill Wednesday.

As Walmart is fighting to keep the minimum wage as low as possible the company’s CEO Michael Duke is receiving millions of dollars in annual compensation. Last year, he received a 14 percent raise, making his salary $20.7 million. A Walmart average full-time hourly employee should work 785 years to earn that money.

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