Calling the Large Retailer Accountability Act “woefully inadequate and flawed,” Gray’s veto send the bill back to the D.C. Council for a possible override.
The council would need nine votes to reverse Gray’s veto.
“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,” Mayor Gray said in a statement.
The Large Retailer Accountability Act would have forced Walmart and other big box stores that operate in the district to pay a minimum wage of $12.50 per hour. That’s $4.25 higher than the city’s blanket minimum wage.
Instead, the mayor expressed his interest in raising the city’s minimum wage citywide in an equitable fashion.
In his statement, Gray called the legislation a “job killer” that would only affect a small fraction of the city’s workforce. He also said that the passage of the bill would not guarantee that the new, higher-paying jobs would even go to D.C. residents.
“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 said.
While the legislation targeted a broad number of stores, the biggest resistance came from Walmart, which has been building and is planning to build six of the chain’s stores in the District.
Just before the D.C. Council was to vote on the bill, though, the company said it would cancel three of their planned Washington locations if Mayor Gray signed the bill.
In a statement released just after Gray’s veto, Walmart officials celebrated the mayor’s decision as the scuttling of “discriminatory legislation.”
“We look forward to finishing the work we started in the city almost three years ago: a plan to bring more jobs, shopping options and fresh food choices to Washington, D.C. residents,” Walmart officials said.
On the other hand, members of Respect DC, a grassroots organization which advocated for the signing of the LRAA, decried Gray’s decision as disappointing and angering.