Gray: Living wage bill could slow D.C. development

WASHINGTON – D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says people will need to “wait and see” whether he signs or vetoes a living wage bill passed by the D.C. Council that would require big-box retailers to pay workers more than 50 percent over the city’s current minimum wage.

“You should wait and see what happens,” Gray told WTOP Friday morning.

Gray says the bill, which mandates a wage of no less than $12.50 an hour, has not reached his desk. The new law would affect Wal-Mart, Costco, Lowe’s and other retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion or more that have retail space of 75,000 square feet or more.

“The clock isn’t even ticking because the bill hasn’t even been sent to us,” Gray said.

Gray said if the bill does become law, it could have an impact on the District’s competitiveness.

“There is a danger of slowing down development,” Gray said, adding that that could impact Costco’s plans for another store.

But the mayor does not think existing businesses would immediately leave.

If the bill does become law, Wal-Mart — which is building three stores in D.C. and promised another three that would in total employ 1,800 people — has said it would not build three of the stores slated for the eastern side of the city, where Gray said more development is “desperately” needed.

While Gray would not say he was leaning toward a veto, he did say that he is “listening to a variety of people.”

“At the end of the day, I will make what I think is the best decision in the interest of moving our city forward,” he said.

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