Barely a week after the DC Council failed to override the veto of the “Large Retailer Accountability Act” (LRAA), WalMart moved forward with plans to open six stores in the District.
The Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak reported that on Monday, Sept 23, the opening of hiring centers near Union Station and on Georgia Avenue NW attracted hundreds of job-seekers, applications in hand, hoping to land more than 300 jobs promised with a new store.
“If they pay $8.25, $8.75, whatever. A job is a job and I need a job,” applicant Ronald Knight, 52, was quoted as saying. “All I want is to work, and I’ll take anything.”
The LRAA, which would have forced so-called big-box stores to pay at least $12.50 an hour in wages and benefits, was fiercely opposed by Wal-Mart.
Officials from the giant retailer called the legislation “discriminatory” and threatened to abandon plans to open stores in District neighborhoods where residents generally lack affordable shopping options and employment opportunities.
Mayor Gray’s veto was largely seen as a reaction to such threats. He called the living wage bill a “job killer” that “does nothing to help underserved parts of the District.” The masses at the hiring centers seemed to validate his claim that the jobs were badly needed.
But without living wage legislation in effect, anti-poverty advocates predict the city’s Wal-Mart workers are destined to struggle to make ends meet.
– Dennis Forster