Victory: Large Retailer Accountability Act Passes DC Council, 8-5

Community supporters rally to support a living wage for DC workers

On Wednesday, the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) passed its second reading before the DC Council!  This important legislation would raise wage standards for employees of large retailer big box stores like Walmart and Home Depot, by requiring all retailers with revenue over $1 billion and stores over 75,000 square feet to pay their workers the DC living wage of $12.50 per hour.

“Ultimately, this bill is about what kind of jobs we want to create for DC residents,” said EJC Deputy Director Ari Weisbard. “Do we want businesses to take the high road and create good, living wage jobs that empower residents to support themselves and their families? Or do we want a system where corporations race to the bottom and pay as little as they can get away with, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab?”

Before heading into the Wilson building, proponents of the LRAA held a rally and a press conference. Other community supporters went from office to office in the Wilson building, urging their councilmembers to stand up for DC workers. Supporters then packed the room to capacity as the council began a heated debate over the bill.

On Tuesday, a last minute Washington Post op-ed by Walmart Regional General Manager Alex Barron threatened that if the LRAA passed, then Walmart will scrap plans to build three of the six stores currently planned for the District – two in Ward 7, including at Skyland, and one in Ward 5.

Although Walmart’s threat caused a commotion as the council debated the bill, eight councilmembers ultimately voted for the legislation (Mendelson- Chair, Barry – 8, Bonds – At-Large, Evans – 2, Graham – 1, Grosso – At-Large, McDuffie – 5, Orange – At-Large), and five voted against it (Alexander – 7, Bowser – 4, Catania – At-Large, Cheh – 3, Wells – 6).

Despite Wednesday’s victory, the LRAA is vulnerable to being vetoed by Mayor Vince Gray. “It’s time for Mayor Gray to stand up for DC workers and sign the Large Retailer Accountability Act,” said Weisbard. “What happens now will define whether the District stand with corporations or will fight for the rights of its residents.”

Please help us ensure that the Large Retailer Accountability Act becomes law. Email Mayor Gray to urge him to not let Walmart bully DC, and thank the councilmembers who stood strong with DC workers.