The Washington, D.C. city government is overstepping its boundaries by making larger employers pay higher wages than other companies.
Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, is fuming about a “living wage” bill approved by the D.C. City Council that has an unusual twist — it would apply only to certain large retailers, forcing them to pay employees at least $12.50 an hour. That’s nearly 50 percent higher than city’s minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.
The bill applies to stores of 75,000 square feet or larger and annual corporate revenues of at least $1 billion.
The measure is being cheered by unions and worker advocates who have long complained about Wal-Mart’s wages and working conditions. Opponents call it an unfair tactic that will discourage companies from doing business in the city.
Wal-Mart has threatened, if the bill becomes law, to cancel plans for three of the six stores it hopes to build in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods that are sorely in need of economic development. The measure is now before D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
It’s not up to government bodies to regulate different rates of pay for companies. If the measure passes, business leaders will find their own way to avoid paying the higher rates. They will either move to another area, or create multiple smaller companies instead of one large organization.
The government is overstepping its boundaries in thinking that larger companies should be able to afford higher pay than smaller companies.