Feature

A ‘living wage’ that drives off Walmart

Walmart is squaring off against the city of Washington, D.C.

Petula DvorakThe Washington Post

Walmart is squaring off against the city of Washington, D.C., said Petula Dvorak. Last week the City Council approved a bill that would require large retailers to pay their workers a $12.50 “living wage”—50 percent more than the $8.25 minimum wage that applies to other District employers. At first the idea made me “fist-pump in triumph.” Like many others, “I want working people to make a decent living,” and I’d love to make Walmart pay for “its crushing effect on the American economy.” But then Walmart threatened to walk away from at least three of the six stores it had planned to open in D.C., sparking “a multimillion-dollar game of chicken.” Now it’s up to Mayor Vincent Gray to either sign or veto the measure—and I’ve come around to thinking that he should veto it. This particular living wage bill won’t do Washingtonians any good. It basically singles out Walmart alone, and would do nothing to help underpaid workers at other chains like McDonald’s, Whole Foods, or CVS. It would chill development that this city really needs, and harm residents who rely on Walmart’s low prices to make ends meet. Let’s hope the mayor realizes that, “at this point, the people of this city need Walmart more than Walmart needs us.”

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