The District of Columbia’s council has cut off its nose to spite its face: the council voted yesterday to require big employers to pay 50 percent more than the minimum wage.
Wal-Mart—the company at which this was aimed—is to be commended for announcing in the wake of the vote that it is abandoning plans to build three new stores in Washington, D.C. It will also review arrangements regarding the three stores it currently operates in Washington.
Bravo for Wal-Mart for refusing to buckle under to the council’s capricious and ultimately harmful decision. The bill was aimed at Wal-Mart, so much so that Charles Krauthammer compared it last night on Fox to a bill of attainder.
Wal-Mart would have brought jobs and inexpensive groceries and other goods to poor neighborhoods, but the unions didn't want that. Union shops, by the way, are exempt from the new law. Wal-Mart, which is not unionized, has long been a thorn in the side of the unions. Right-thinking liberals also hate Wal-Mart, though I bet they aren't above availing themsleves of some of the goods and services provided by the retain giant.
So here is what went down: in an attempt to stay in good with big labor, the council used its power in a way that will have a negative impact on poor neighborhoods. Irritatingly, they will pose as the protectors of the very poor whose neighborhoods will take the hit.
The vote was close—five to eight—and that means that Mayor Vincent Gray could decide to veto it.
Whatever happens, Wal-Mart is right in refusing to play ball.
In effect, Wal-Mart is hanging tough and declining to help these pols curry the favor of big labor at the public's–and a corporation's–expense.