Walmart Apparently Doesn’t Want to Pay Workers a ‘Livable Wage’
Jul 10, 2013 | truthdig
Corporate retail giant Walmart is threatening to scrap plans to open several stores in Washington, D.C., if the city passes a higher minimum wage law that would boost the hourly income of its lowly paid workers by nearly $5. The minimum wage at Walmart is currently $8.25, but under the D.C. City Council’s proposed Large Retailer Accountability Act, Walmart would have to pay its employees at least $12.50 an hour—something the world’s largest retailer doesn’t want to do.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post on Tuesday, Alex Barron, a regional general manager for Walmart, explained that the proposal “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.” As a result, he wrote, the company would not pursue stores at three planned locations in the area. “What’s more, passage would also jeopardize the three stores already under construction, as we would thoroughly review the financial and legal implications of the bill on those projects,” Barron added.
The council is expected to vote on the “living wage” measure Wednesday.
The LRAA is a measure that would force big-box stores like Wal-Mart to pay workers at least $12.50 an hour. The city’s minimum wage is $8.25. In the U.S., the average wage for a full-time hourly Wal-Mart associate is $12.57, according to the company. That’s about $25,000 a year at 40 hours a week, or just above the federal poverty level of $23,050 for a family of four. But many part-time workers at the company make little more than the minium wage.
Whatever the D.C. council’s decision, Mayor Vincent Gray has 10 days to decide whether to veto it.
Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the country, is claiming the D.C. Council played “bait-and-switch.” Three of Wal-Mart’s six planned stores in Washington, D.C. are under construction, “with the first two expected to open this fall,” Barron wrote in the op-ed.
"But despite the consensus among D.C. stakeholders about the economic value that our stores would bring, some members of the D.C. Council are advancing an eleventh-hour effort to try to undermine our efforts and change the way businesses like Wal-Mart must operate in the city," Barron wrote. "New legislation — the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) — would require that a few large employers pay a starting rate that is more than $5 per hour above the minimum wage."
When Walmart decided to open stores in D.C., announcing in November 2010 the initial stage of its plans, the retailer said it was committed to understanding the communities where it hopes to do business. The company has previously said it has participated in more than 200 community meetings and documented its commitment to "help stimulate economic development, expand access to affordable groceries and create quality jobs in the city."