Gray Vetoes D.C.'s 'Living Wage' Bill

Mayor Vincent Gray on Thursday morning vetoed the D.C. Council’s legislation to mandate higher minimum wages for many large retailers.

“I am vetoing this legislation precisely because I believe in providing a living wage to as many District residents as possible — and this bill is not a true living-wage measure,” Gray said in a statement announcing the decision. “While the intentions of its supporters were good, this bill is simply a woefully inadequate and flawed vehicle for achieving the goal we all share.”

Widely viewed as legislation tailored toward Wal-Mart, which is set to open several stores in the District in the coming years, supporters argued that it would guarantee a livable wage for employees.

The legislation would have mandated that retailers with sales of $1 billion or more that operate in spaces 75,000 square feet or larger pay their employees a minimum wage of at least $12.50. The District’s minimum wage is $8.25. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

“The bill is 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,” Gray wrote in a letter to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. Wal-Mart said it would pull out of planned stores in the District if the measure became law.

The council passed the bill, 8-5, in July, short of a veto-proof margin.