Living Just Enough for the City

Right now in the Nation’s Capital, residents and developers wait with baited breath to see if a new living wage bill, Large Retailer Accountability Act, will receive Mayor Gray’s signature or veto. The bill will require large retailers to pay a higher minimum wage of at least $12.50 per hour, $4.25 over DC’s current minimum wage. Who will the Mayor side with? Big biz or DC blue collar? Tick, tock.

Meanwhile, area retailers sent a threatening letter to Gray, asking for his veto. Walmart, which is slated to open six stores in DC, threatens to stop the investment if the bill becomes law; the mega-retailer has met plenty of community resistance given its challenging track record as an employer.

This fight remains critical to local and national economies continues to be one devoid of consensus or partnership: big business versus worker bees.  Federal mandates such as minimum wage were created and business is resentful of the interference while the other side still can’t feed a family of four. Hence, the living wage movement is born.

Living wage campaigns are nothing new and many state-level movements have been very successful. University students have improved the realities of many university workers by staging university sit-ins and garnering community and media support. Companies, shareholders and executives grow wealthier while employees struggle to pay household bills. Is there no room for negotiation?

Unfortunately, today The Washington Post released an editorial chiding the DC Council bill and urging Gray to make a move or indicate his intent to veto. What I don’t understand is why it is acceptable that a person who does an honest day’s work can not support themselves let alone a family.  A Detroit-area fast food company has figured it out…

DC Council votes on the living wage bill:

Voting in favor of the bill were Orange, Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), David Grosso (I-At Large), Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8). Voting against were Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), Muriel Bowser, David A. Catania (I-At Large), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Opponents on the Council argue that the bill is an economic development and jobs killer.

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