Mayor Gray To Decide Whether Or Not To Veto Living Wage Bill

6:07 PM, Jul 11, 2013   |    comments
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Vincent Gray (courtesy: Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Wal-Mart has said it will scrap three stores planned for the District and will review whether to continue with the other three District stores under construction if the new living wage bill becomes law. 

Mayor Vincent Gray is weighing whether to veto the bill or not.  He told WUSA9 that he taking Wal-Mart's threats to pull out, seriously. 

"The Wal-Mart folks, for example,  have been very clear about their position, I want to hear it again now that the bill has passed," said Mayor Gray.

The Mayor implied in his first public comments after Wednesday's vote that the legislation unfairly targets big box stores.  

"We've got Costco who we've talked to about the success they've had here.  They've talked to us about the possibility of expanding. They're going to be affected by this.  Wegmans, in terms of whether they come to the District of Columbia.  Lowes, which is in the throes of building a new store here. So, I've got to look at the full impact," said Mayor Gray. 

The city's current minimum wage is $8.25, a dollar higher than the national rate. The bill would require large retailers to pay wages no lower than $12.50 per hour. 

Giant and Safeway would not be affected. 

"It's hard to understand why those who have collective bargaining agreements are exempted from this and those who aren't are not exempted," said the Mayor.

Today, federal workers at the Smithsonian protested low wages and lobbied for higher minimum wages.  While the bill would not affect them, Mayor Gray said he understands their concerns, but does not want the city to lose out on $1800 jobs promised by the Wal-Mart stores. 

After the city council transfers the bill to the Mayor, he has 10 business days to decide whether to veto it. 

All indications are that he will. The City Council needs nine votes to override a veto. The vote Wednesday was 8 to 5.   

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