Written By: Ebony Landon and Posted to Blogger on July 9, 2013
Today Walmart announced that they will pull their plans to open three new locations in DC if they pass the “Living Wage Bill.” On June 26, 2013, the DC council passed the initial vote to make retailers over 75,000 sf pay their employees $12.50 per hour. Mike DeBonis and Jonathan O’Connell write that “the council’s vote puts Gray (D) under considerable pressure because he has made economic development of underserved areas — particularly in the eastern half of the city — a priority. But vetoing a bill that would give a leg up to low-income workers could be uncomfortable for Gray, who might seek reelection next year.”
Walmart who is often in the news for their unfair treatment of workers, low pay and undesirable working conditions took to stage today and made their point clear to the District. “The retailer has been subject to criticism by numerous groups and individuals. Among these are labor unions, community groups, grassroots organizations, religious organizations, environmental groups and Wal-Mart customers. They have protested against Wal-Mart, the company's policies and business practices, including charges of racial and gender discrimination.”*
So is the living wage bill a hinderance to development or is it a help for the impoverished areas of the District?
$4.25 an hour equates to $8,320.00 a year in pay. If you are currently making minimum wage in the District of $8.25 an hour, this is a large amount of money annually that could be used to support your family. With the increase cost in gas, electricity, rent and food, this bump in income is substantial.
“Because Walmart employs part-time and relatively low paid workers, some workers may partially qualify for state welfare programs. This has led critics to claim that Walmart increases the burden on taxpayer-funded services. A 2002 survey by the state of Georgia's subsidized healthcare system, PeachCare, found thatWalmart was the largest private employer of parents of children enrolled in its program; one quarter of the employees of Georgia Walmarts qualified to enroll their children in the federal subsidized healthcare system Medicaid. A 2004 study at the University of California, Berkeley charges that Walmart's low wages and benefits are insufficient, and although decreasing the burden on the social safety net to some extent, California taxpayers still pay $86 million a year toWalmart employees.”*
If by paying lower wages to its employees still hurts the economy in the district the store is located in, why would we waiver on passing a bill that supports higher wages which may equate to lower subsidies to families lowering the cost of welfare in the District? Do we really want a retailer that would retract their bid to build in the District because their bottom line is more important than the welfare of the city they’re in? How could a store benefit the area if it is not really benefiting the area?
People Effecting People was founded in 2012 by a group of leaders in the community who could no longer ignore the pressures of the economic hardships and needed to find a way to make a difference and create opportunity. Economic uncertainty can cause significant stress in families already struggling to make ends meet. Our team works to supplement those social programs cut out of the family budgets due to the rise in taxes and cuts in service funding.