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Today’s been a busy day for Ralph Nader in D.C. politics. First the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled on his group’s effort to halt plans for redevelopment of the West End Library. (Alas, not in his favor.) Now the former Green Party presidential candidate has also sent a letter to Mayor Vince Gray to better inform him on his upcoming decision to sign or veto the controversial living wage bill.
The Large Retailer Accountability Act of 2013, which would require retailers with more than 75,000 square feet of space and parent companies grossing more than $1 billion per year to pay a minimum of $12.50 an hour, minus benefits, has not yet reached Gray’s desk. (Gray says D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is sitting on it until his colleagues get back from summer recess.) But that hasn’t stopped Walmart, the bill’s most vocal opponent, from sending out near-daily press emails arguing against various elements of the bill. Now it’s also inspired a letter from Nader to the mayor, with a helpful lesson from our neighbor to the north.
“In the Canadian province of Ontario, where Walmart Canada has its headquarters, the minimum wage is $10.25 (the Canadian and U.S. dollars are about equivalent)—-$3 above the United States’ federal minimum wage,” writes Nader, who signs the letter as a representative of Time for a Raise, one of several advocacy organizations he’s started in recent years. “Walmart has 110 stores in Ontario.”
Nader argues that if Walmart stores in Canada—-as well as in U.S. states with minimum wages higher than D.C.’s $8.25—-can operate profitably, so can Walmart stores in D.C. with higher minimum wage requirements.
“If Walmart’s lobbyists say otherwise,” Nader writes, “I recommend that you ask Walmart Canada President and CEO, Shelley G. Broader, whether the closest Walmart to her office in Mississauga, Ontario—-which is paying their workers $10.25—-is profitable.”
Will Nader’s advice weigh more heavily in Gray’s deliberations than the opposition from Walmart, D.C. business leaders, and five councilmembers? It’s doubtful. But then again, those business leaders and councilmembers never changed the outcome of a presidential election.
Photo by @mjb via Flickr