With a decision by Mayor Vince Gray on whether to sign or veto the controversial living wage bill coming as early as this week, a Walmart-backed group is trying to lend a popular voice to the company’s public push to kill the legislation.
“Mayor Gray needs to hear from you!” implores a petition posted late last week by Don’t Block D.C. Progress, a group that has not disclosed its funders, but which is at least partially backed by Walmart. “This week, the DC Council passed 8-5 The Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA), a bill that will result in a smaller number of retail options, fewer jobs, and higher prices in D.C. Now, the bill is on the mayor’s desk. We must tell Mayor Gray that DC residents want jobs, and retail access, NOT the LRAA.”
The Council passed the measure—-which would require retailers in excess of 75,000 square feet with parent companies that gross at least $1 billion per year—-last Wednesday and will soon send the bill to Gray. There are indications that he may veto it: Walmart has threatened to cancel plans for three of its six planned D.C. stores if the bill becomes law, including a store that Gray insisted upon at Skyland Town Center in Gray’s home Ward 7, and Gray’s top deputy for economic development has spoken critically of the measure.
Walmart has sent out near-daily press releases in opposition to the bill as the Council prepared to vote, and after its vote set up a mayoral decision. But the petition by Don’t Block D.C. Progress represents a new effort to combat the populist campaign in favor of the bill by groups like Respect DC.
(h/t Jonathan O’Connell)