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Walmart will cancel three D.C. stores if wage bill passes


New York -- Walmart confirmed in an op-ed in the Washington Post that it will pull the plug on three planned stores in the Washington, D.C., area if the D.C. Council passes a bill setting a higher minimum wage for large retailers. The bill, the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) of 2013, is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday.

The bill would require large retailers with stores over 75,000 sq. ft. and parent companies grossing at least $1 billion per year to pay a "living wage" of $12.50 an hour. (The District has a minimum wage of $8.25.)

“Like any business, we have a responsibility to our customers, employees and shareholders to re-evaluate our options when it looks like local rules may significantly change," Alex Barron, a regional general manager for Wal-Mart U.S. responsible for about 90 stores, including all planned stores for Washington, D.C., wrote in the op-ed. “The LRAA would clearly inject unforeseen costs into the equation that will create an uneven playing field and challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores.

As a result, Barron wrote, Wal-Mart will not pursue stores at Skyland, Capitol Gateway, and New York Avenue, if the LRAA is passed.

“What’s more, passage will also jeopardize the three stores already under construction as we will thoroughly review the financial and legal implications of the bill on those projects,” Barron wrote.

The D.C. Council is set to take its second vote on the bill tomorrow, after it passed it on an 8-5 first vote last month. If it passes again, it will go to Mayor Vince Gray, who has not stated whether he will sign or veto it.

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