Lawmakers like Washing DC Democratic Councilman-at-Large Vincent Orange are pushing a new law in Washington, DC. What it does is require non-union retailers with more than $1B in annual revenues and with stores larger than 75,000 square feet to pay a $12.50 hourly minimum wage. This is $4.25 an hour more than the city’s already mandated wage of $8.25 which is $1.00 over the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
The Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) passed the council on an 8 – 5 vote two weeks ago. DC Mayor Vincent Gray must now veto the bill or allow it to become law.
Wal-Mart, for its part, has said that if the LRAA becomes law it may cancel three of the six planned Wal-Marts on the boards for construction in the nation’s capitol. Wal- Mart notes LRAA critics, including DC’s Mayor from 1999 to 2007, Anthony Williams, point to Chicago’s failure on a similar measure; the value and benefit to communities hosting a Wal-Mart in terms of prices and jobs and the potential chilling effect passage might have should other communities consider following DC’s lead. Star Parker calls it like she sees it and asks simply, “Why is the wage a company pays the business of politicians?”
Councilman Orange thinks he has Wal-Mart bent over one of their low price signs. The New York Post calls the two Vincents “Dumb and Dumber” if they manage to pass this and describes Orange’s demeanor as gloating as they quote him declaring, ““We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. They need us.”
Lost in the rhetoric is the dire situation DC residents find themselves in and the worsening of that condition should Wal-Mart pull out. The company’s fact sheet observes each of the stores will hire approximately 300 employees. That’s almost 1,000 jobs lost. DC’s unemployment rate of 8.6% is higher than the national average. These aren’t just $8.25 an hour jobs. The full time jobs pay from $50K to over $100K annually and Wal-Mart notes that almost 75% of their managers started as hourly employees and that 170,000 people were promoted with raises every year. This is what Vincent Gray and Vincent Orange are putting at risk.
In addition, each of the stores will have a full grocery store section bringing fresh produce and fruits to the inner city. The store’s pharmacies and their $4 prescription plans will help with healthcare costs. The lower prices for general merchandise cannot help but benefit even those who don’t get the jobs. Lower prices boost buying power for all customers, not just those fortunate enough to work for the retailer.
All of which begs the question, just exactly how does Democrat Councilman Orange arrive at the conclusion that Wal-Mart needs Washington, DC? Star Parker notes Wal-Mart gets from 10,000 to 25,000 applications for the 300 positions at the stores. Clearly, there are some in DC who disagree with Orange. Further,
The chain’s “low prices every day” business strategy is one of the greatest success stories in American history. Since opening its first store in 1962, the company has grown exponentially. Today, it has sales of almost a half-trillion dollars, putting it first on the Fortune 500 list for highest revenue.
According to corporate officials, the company has more 10,000 stores around the world, employs 2.2 million people and serves 200 million customers per week.
Lots of people will shop there with all the benefits that entails. The proposed stores are expected to generate $10M in tax revenues for the city. Right now, at least some of these dollars are being lost to stores outside the city. In addition, Wal-Mart gives around $2M charitably to DC area organizations. What are Vincent and Vincent thinking?
It is getting harder and harder to keep from believing the people who back these initiatives are either fools or intentionally trying to destroy the US Economy. I understand they believe themselves to be the champions of the poor and middle class and staunchly on the side of the best of what it means to be an American. But the proof, as they say, lies in the actual pudding, not the pudding you hope to have when you start out. There is simply too much evidence against those advocating minimum wages. At that point, whatever is in their heart is defeated by the reality in the wallets of those they say they want to help.