Yesterday, when Mayor Gray vetoed Bill 20-62, the “Large Retailer Accountability Act of 2013” (LRAA), he let down the thousands of DC residents who were counting on him to assure that DC employers paid a livable wage. Three years ago, Mayor Gray stated that he was “not ambiguous about the fact that they need to pay competitive wages” (speaking specifically about Wal-Mart). “We don’t want low-quality jobs here,” then-candidate Gray concluded.
In a city where a worker earning the current minimum wage of $8.25/hour would have to work 132 hours each week to afford the fair market rent on a 2 bedroom apartment, the prospect of a $12.50/hour wage could mean the difference between remaining a District resident or being forced to abandon a life-long home in DC for a less expensive jurisdiction. A livable wage is key to addressing the crisis of homelessness in the nation’s capital. Families and individuals who are homeless are not going to be able to earn their way out of shelter in a community where housing costs are as high as in DC, unless they are able to earn a better wage than the law presently mandates.
One of the Mayor’s cited reasons for vetoing the LRAA in his letter to the DC Council is that it would only raise the minimum wage for a small fraction of the District’s workforce. While we absolutely support a higher living wage bill for all DC workers, the LRAA is an important step forward in allowing District workers to make a wage that will actually let them live in the place they have called home their entire lives. (For a point by point response to Mayor Gray’s stance against the LRAA, read the DC Fiscal Policy Institute’s blog.)
The DC Council has the opportunity to override the Mayor’s veto and they could vote as early as next Tuesday. Councilmember Tommy Wells holds the one swing vote. Take action TODAY and tell Councilmember Wells you support the LRAA.
* “Save Money. Live Better.” is Walmart’s corporate slogan.