Last Thursday, some 40 D.C. clergy gathered at Pennsylvania Avenue
Baptist Church for a press conference urging D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to sign the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) into law. The bill would require large retailers making over $1 billion in revenue and stores of 75,000 square feet to pay a living wage of $12.50 an hour, including benefits. Calling it “an issue of economic justice,” Reverend Graylan Hagler, President of Faith Strategies and Pastor of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ said that “$12.50 is not too much to ask a large retailer to pay, including Walmart, whose CEO earns $11,000 per hour.”
Walmart threatened to cancel three stores planned for Wards 7 and 8 if the D.C. Council passed the bill, which they did on July 10th with a vote of 8-5. Now, Walmart is pressuring D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to veto the legislation, threatening to “re-evaluate” their plans for the three stores already being constructed in the city.
The clergy has previously supported the Mayor’s leadership in economic development as well as moving the District forward in voting rights, budgetary autonomy and advocating Congress to respect the people of the city. However, last week the clergy warned Mayor Gray that caving into this economic blackmail and vetoing the bill would be a contradictory and counterproductive message. “Mayor Gray has to remember he doesn’t work for Walmart, he works for the people of this city!” said Hagler, “We are here today to encourage our Mayor to take a giant step of courage with the majority of the D.C. council and sign the LRAA.”
Next Steps: D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has not yet transmitted the bill to the Mayor’s desk. However, once the bill is transmitted the Mayor has 10 days to either sign the bill into law or veto it.