D.C. Living Wage Bill Unable to Get Votes to Override Mayor’s Veto, but Fight for a Higher Minimum Wage Has Just Begun

Although the Washington, D.C., Council did not override Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s veto of the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA), which would have required the district’s big-box retailers to pay workers a living wage of $12.50 an hour, the conversation about raising the minimum wage in D.C. is gaining momentum.

Metropolitan Washington Council President Jos Williams said:

We made sure the issue of a living wage was front and center across the country. We exposed Walmart’s hypocrisy and just how far they will go to deny workers fair pay. And we backed Council members into a corner; forcing them to have a real conversation about raising wages for all working people. The fight for fair wages for all District workers isn’t over. We thank those who stood with workers and for the Council members who sided with Walmart, there will be consequences.

Walmart, which is slated to open five stores in Washington, D.C., had previously threatened to pull out of the district if they were required to pay their workers a living wage.

“We’re disappointed that Mayor Gray and certain city council members didn’t listen to D.C. residents and pass this commonsense bill,” said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs with Justice and American Rights at Work—two organizations involved in the coalition to pass the LRAA. “We all do better when we all do better—and Washington, D.C., deserves better than employers who don’t respect the community. We hope this vote sends a message to legislators in cities and towns across the country that residents will continue to speak out and demand fair wages for workers in their city. This fight in D.C. is just the beginning.”

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells gathered support for a new bill yesterday, when the LRAA veto override failed, that would create an across-the-board minimum wage hike indexed to inflation. The Washington Post reports, ”The bill gained nine co-introducers, indicating significant momentum for an across-the-board wage increase.”

Also, Gray floated a minimum wage increase in his veto letter Thursday, and Council member David A. Catania introduced a bill Tuesday proposing an increase.

According to a Hart Research Associates poll, 71% of D.C. residents supported the LRAA.

Walmart workers all over the United States will continue to challenge Walmart  now and throughout the holiday season leading up to Black Friday to address low wages, lack of respect and what they say are poor working conditions.

Forbes announced two days ago the Walton family, which owns Walmart, saw their net worth increase 25% in the past six months to $144.7 billion.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Veto Override Battle Next Step in D.C. Living Wage Campaign

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Following Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray’s veto Thursday of a living wage bill for workers in big-box stores such as Walmart, backers of Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) are mounting a campaign to override the veto.

The bill, which sets a $12.50 wage for workers, passed the D.C. City Council in June by an 8–5 vote, and an override requires nine votes. TheMetropolitan Washington Council’s Union City reports that LRAA backers are focusing on D.C. Council member Tommy Wells for the ninth vote.

Metropolitan Washington Council President Jos Williams called on the City Council to “stand up for D.C. workers and override this veto.”

District resident Kimberly Mitchell said Gray “had the opportunity to stand up for the residents of this city, but instead he allowed large, out of town companies, like Walmart, to threaten him and ultimately dictate the policies of our city.”

Shortly before the Council passed the bill, Walmart threatened to scrap plans to build three stores planned for the district and possibly halt construction on three others that are under way.

The Rev. Graylan Hagler, of Plymouth United Congregational Church of Christ and Faith Strategies, said:

If we cannot demand higher wages and good jobs from the nation’s and world’s largest corporations, D.C. will not be able to remain a diverse and vibrant city. We strongly urge the City Council to override this misguided veto.

If you’re in D.C., contact Wells at 888-264-6154 asking him to support the LRAA and override the veto.

Read more from Respect DC.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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31,000 Tell D.C.’s Gray, ‘Sign the Living Wage Bill’

Several dozen Washington, D.C., community, faith and worker activists brought concrete evidence to Mayor Vincent C. Gray that district voters believe workers deserve a living wage, when they delivered 31,917 signatures on a petition urging Gray to sign the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA).

In late June, the D.C. City Council passed the LRAA that calls for a $12.50 an hour wage for workers in big-box stores such as Walmart. But Gray has yet to say if he will sign or veto the living wage bill. Today’s petition is the latest in the campaign by district residents that has included email messages and phone calls to urge the mayor to listen to voters, not Walmart lobbyists and lawyers.

In a press conference on the steps of the city’s Wilson Building, the Rev. Virginia Willis (see photo) said district workers need jobs:

But minimum wage isn’t enough. We’re talking about a living wage. We’re not going to be pushed around by out of town corporations. Sign the bill, Mr. Mayor.

Gray has previously expressed support for a living wage law and Metropolitan Washington Council President Jos Williams told the crowd that while running for office, Gray endorsed such a law when he sought the council’s support.

The mayor is expected to act on the bill early next week, meaning there is still time for district residents to click here to send Gray an email urging him to sign the living wage law.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Walmart Should Look in Mirror for Declining Sales Cause

Walmart reported last week that sales at its U.S. stores had unexpectedly declined. Walmart tried to explain its shrinking sales away by citing outside factors such as higher gas prices and payroll taxes.

But, say many market observers, the real cause lies within Walmart itself—the largest private-sector employer in the United States and the poster child for low-wages.

Daniel Gross at The Daily Beast says, “This isn’t complicated. Or, rather, it shouldn’t be complicated.” He writes:

By paying low wages, Walmart is effectively limiting the ability of a large chunk of the American workforce to consume. By setting a low benchmark, it encourages other employers to do the same. The sorts of people who make up Walmart’s core shopping constituency are the sort of people who work there. Were they to earn more income, they’d surely spend more at stores—including Walmart. Since they don’t, they don’t.

Read his full article.

Along with the low wages, keep in mind Walmart and a growing number of other employers keep large chunks of their workforces on part-time status and have cut back the hours of full-time workers. Don’t forget the lack of affordable health care coverage. In other words, there’s less money for workers to spend outside of bare family necessities.

Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough told Reuters, “That low-income customer is really struggling now, and that’s hitting Walmart.”

John Marshall, a senior analyst for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) capital stewardship program, told the New York Post:

The company is left facing a core customer challenged by many of the economic forces Walmart itself has unleashed on low-income worker/consumers.

Here’s another voice that gets to the heart of Walmart’s sales decline. Larry Born has worked at the Walmart in Crestwood, Ill., for three years and is a member of the Walmart worker group Our Walmart. He says the sales numbers “make it clear that Walmart’s labor practices aren’t just hurting workers like me—they’re also hurting business.”

But he also has some sound fiscal advice for Walmart.

If Walmart wants to reverse these trends, the company should start by listening to its associates. With $16 billion in profits every year, Walmart can easily afford to increase pay and access to full-time hours so that we can make our stores great places to shop and so that every Walmart worker can support their family—without relying on public assistance. These commonsense changes will help repair the company’s image, lift its bottom-line and strengthen our entire economy.

Read more from Born.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

Photo by ThePeoplesRecord on Tumblr

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