D.C. Mayor Rightly Vetoes Union-Backed Wage Bill

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 12, 2013 – Today, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed a union-backed bill that would have levied an especially high minimum wage on Wal-Mart—and Wal-Mart alone. Although the legislation’s wording seems to apply to all large retailers, it defined them so only Wal-Mart would have been affected by the law.

The retail giant originally planned to open as many as six stores in the city, but said it would scale back its plans and open only three stores if the measure became law. The law would have required it to pay at least $12.50 per hour in wages and benefits, substantially more than the city’s existing $8.25 minimum wage. The City Council does not appear to have the votes to override the veto, but labor unions supporting the bill are likely to make a major push for its override.

CEI regulatory expert Ryan Young praised the mayor’s bold move.

“Mayor Gray stood up for District residents, consumers, and job seekers who will benefit from an influx of low-cost retailers,” Young said. “The city council and a predictable cadre of activists unfairly targeted a specific business for political gain—and economic loss. Mayor Gray’s decision will allow hundreds of new jobs to be created in the District. Just as important, D.C.’s consumers will benefit from another retail and grocery competitor joining the market.”

CEI labor policy analyst Ivan Osorio also praised Gray’s decision.

“It’s nice to see common sense prevail on an issue that never should have been politically contentious in the first place. Wal-Mart was targeted merely for its nonunion status. Unfortunately, it is now common for unions to spend more time demonizing employers than attracting members. Is it any wonder they are dwindling in the private sector?”