Walmart Vows to Open D.C. Stores, After Mayor Veteos Wage Bill

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Wal-Mart said it will go forward with plans to open stores in Washington D.C. now that the capital’s mayor has vetoed legislation that would require large retailers to pay higher wages.

Mayor Vincent Gray on Thursday overturned a new law, which would have required big box stores like Wal-Mart to pay no less than $12.50 an hour in combined wages and benefits. The city’s current minimum wage is $8.25.

The hotly-debated Large Retailer Accountability Act, which passed the D.C. Council last month, applied to stores with more than $1 billion in annual sales. Last year, Wal-Mart reported sales of $469 billion.

Wal-Mart had planned to open D.C. locations for three years, but told the council a day before the bill passed that it would back away if the legislation went through.

Soon after the mayoral veto came through, Wal-Mart said it would resume its plans.

“Now that this discriminatory legislation is behind us, we will move forward on our first stores in our nation’s capital,” Wal-Mart spokesman Steven V. Restivo said in a statement.

In a letter to D.C. Council members, Mayor Gray called the bill a “job-killer,” because “nearly every large retailer now considering opening a store in the District has indicated that they will not come here or expand here if this bill becomes law.”

He also said the bill would only raise the minimum wage for a small fraction of the district’s workforce.

The debate over Wal-Mart wages spans beyond Washington. The store’s workers have been protesting nationwide for higher wages and better hours since last November.

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