The Washington D.C. Council voted 8-5 on Wednesday to approve a measure that would increase the minimum wage that certain large retailers are required to pay by 50 percent.
The measure, the Large Retailer Accountability Act, mandates a “living wage” of $12.50 per hour for employees at stores larger than 75,00 square feet and parent companies that gross at least $1 billion per year, The Washington Times reports.
The bill will move to Mayor Vincent C. Gray for approval. Wal-Mart planned to open six stores in the area—three of which are already under construction—but the company said it would not do so if the measure passed.
Other cities such as San Francisco and Santa Fe, N.M., have also approved minimum wage increases, but the measure makes Washington D.C. the first district to single out a big-box retailer, according to The Washington Times.
“Today’s vote by the D.C. City Council to impose an arbitrary and completely discriminatory wage requirement on select retailers is a clear signal that a number of Council members care more about narrow, special interests than their own constituents and communities,” the National Retail Federation said. “Retailers, both large and small, create rewarding job and career opportunities for many District residents, provide goods and services for all neighborhoods and communities and spur economic growth and revitalization.”
Gray, who urged lawmakers to proceed carefully on the measure, issued a statement expressing concern over the bill.
“The Mayor has already indicated his serious concerns over the lost jobs and retail opportunities for District residents that the bill will cause,” spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said, The Washington Times reports. “As he waits for the Council to send the legislation to him, he’ll be interested to hear what District residents and employers think.”