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Washington, DC, city council member Tommy Wells
Washington, D.C., council member Tommy Wells
The Washington, D.C., city council will vote early this week on whether to override Mayor Vincent Gray's veto of a living wage bill for big box store workers, and it's clear that council members who opposed the Large Retailer Accountability Act are feeling the heat. One of them is trying to bolster his mayoral hopes by proposing a measure to raise the minimum wage for all workers in the District:
Councilmember and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells plans to introduce a bill Monday that would raise the minimum wage over each of the next two years to $10.25 an hour. The legislation would also increase the district's standard deduction for personal income taxes.
So Tommy Wells, city council member, is looking for a way to vote to uphold Gray's veto while Tommy Wells, mayoral candidate, wants to look like he's fighting for higher wages for the city's workers. If he follows through on his proposal, that would be great. Raising the minimum wage to $10.25 would be a big raise many of the city's workers. But the possibility of maybe doing it sometime in the future shouldn't become a distraction from the Large Retailer Accountability Act, which would give workers in the biggest big box stores a $12.50 living wage; Washington, D.C., can and should do both. This minimum wage proposal looks like Wells is hoping to get voters to forgive him for a vote against the very popular LRAA.

A Hart Research Associates poll finds that 71 percent of D.C. voters support the big box living wage bill, with 58 percent wanting the city council to override Gray's veto and 63 percent saying they would be more likely to support a mayoral candidate who supported the LRAA. And while one of the mayor's justifications for vetoing the bill was that it would hurt jobs and economic development in underserved areas of the city—areas Walmart was planning to move into—residents of the wards where Walmart was planning to locate also support a veto override.

The question for Wells and other council members who voted against a $12.50 wage for big box store workers is who they'll listen to: voters, or Walmart. And after they override the mayor's veto of the LRAA, they absolutely should go on to raise the city's minimum wage to $10.25.

Please join with Daily Kos and Working America by signing the petition urging D.C. City Council members Tommy Wells, Muriel Bowser, Mary Cheh, David Catana and Yvette Alexander to override Mayor Gray’s veto and pass the Large Retailer Accountability Act.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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