July 12th, 2013
12:19 PM ET
1 year ago

Marion Barry defends Walmart vote in Washington

Updated 1:22 p.m. ET, 6/12

(CNN) - Marion Barry, former Washington D.C. mayor and now city councilman, is standing by his vote to raise the district's minimum wage for large retailers–a move that throws a wrench in Walmart's plans to open its doors in the nation's capital.

"What really tipped me over the edge was the fact that Walmart was sticking us up. By saying if you don't do this, we're going to do that–we're going to leave here," the Democrat said Thursday on Fox News.


The bill, known as the Large Retailer Accountability Act, would require big retailers to pay a minimum wage of $12.50, a 50% hike above the city's current minimum wage, which is already a dollar more than the minimum wage in neighboring Virginia and Maryland.

Walmart had publicly opposed the bill's provisions, saying in a Washington Post opinion piece that the cost increase would create "an uneven playing field" and "challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores."

And a spokesman for the company said the bill will cause Walmart to halt construction on three of the six stores planned for the city. Two stores are already scheduled to open this fall.

"This was a difficult decision for us...but the council has forced our hand," a Walmart spokesman told CNN's John Berman. "Our wages and benefits meet or exceed those offered by most of our competitors."

CNNMoney: Walmart's low wages cost taxpayers

Barry said Walmart's ultimatum further encouraged his decision to vote for the minimum wage bill.

"You don't get a job at any price," he said Thursday. "They have held us hostage, we're not going to take it."

Walmart says the six proposed stores would create 1,800 jobs and bring more affordable products to underserved communities. The retailer has been working with the district for three years to start building a solid reputation among concerns that it would drive out small businesses.

Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray, as well as the Washington Post's editorial board, have been supportive of Walmart's efforts, arguing the economic development would be a net win for the city.

CNNMoney: Walmart: We promote 500 workers a day

In the opinion piece published Tuesday, Walmart described the city council's move as an "eleventh-hour effort to try to undermine" the company's attempts to be a beneficial player in the community.

The bill defines a "large retailer" as a business that has 75,000 square feet and whose parent company's gross revenues total $1 billion or more per year. While the bill appears to be targeting Walmart, the Washington Post reports that the grocery chain Wegmans has also expressed concerns about the legislation.

The bill now goes to Mayor Gray's desk, where he can sign or veto it. Gray has not said which way he will go. If he chooses the latter, Barry pledged the city council would override his veto.

In the confrontational interview, Fox News host Eric Bolling brought up Barry's own controversy, in which he was censured and fined Thursday by the city's ethics board over financial disclosure violations.

Asked why voters should trust him, Barry maintained that his experience qualifies him to make decisions for the city.

"I may lose credibility through you and your viewers, but I have gained credibility. I mean I was mayor for 16 years, another mayor for four years. I've been in this business since 31 years, trying to bring dignity and justice," he said.

Barry's return to politics marked a comeback after serving a six-month jail sentence for a 1990 drug possession charge and entering a 2005 guilty plea to misdemeanor tax charges.


Filed under: Washington D.C.
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. it must be said

    The bill, known as the Large Retailer Accountability Act, increases the city's minimum wage to $12.50, a 50% hike above the city's current minimum wage, which is already a dollar more than the minimum wage in neighboring Virginia and Maryland.
    --

    Sounds more like the Large Retailer Get the Heck Out of Here Act. Why did they stop at $12.50? Why not $50 an hour?

    Stupid, stupid, stupid Democrats continue to do stuff like this then wonder where all the jobs are. Where are they??? Dead and buried after your insane attacks and laws. And all of the people will suffer because of it. Now what was that black unemployment rate in DC???

    July 12, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Walmart had publicly opposed the bill's provisions, saying in a Washington Post opinion piece that the cost increase would create "an uneven playing field" and "challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores." "

    Translation: Someone might have to take a 7 figure salary instead of an 8 figure salary. Waaaaah.

    July 12, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Walmart just sells Chinese junk products and crap food so leave, just more business for everybody else!!!!

    July 12, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Just a junk dealer!!!!

    July 12, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    How and why anyone would shop at Walmart is beyond me. This cult of a company does nothing but sell plenty of cheap Chinese products, pay minimum wage salaries, force employees to seek state assistance and then send the taxpayers the bill. Marion Barry is right on this issue and the states (if possible), need to start holding Walmart accountable for their dishonest and greedy tactics. I, for one, would love to see them out of business.

    July 12, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Meanwhile, back in reality, more and more documents keep coming out showing that the IRS similarly targeted groups with "progressive" and "occupy" or other such "liberal" leaning words in their names, and even documents showing that they were instructed to be put in the same program that the Teatroll groups were put in. Does the "liberal" media think it's important to highlight this and correct the misimpressions created by its slavering leghump scandal reporting? No. It's avoiding it like the plague because admitting it was wrong and that the evidence now show the "scandal" was never real is anathema to the MSM. Real journalists would correct the misinformation and misimpressions created by their reporting, but not these goofs. No no...next time we'll hear about it is for them to report loudly about what Issa is saying to rationalize away those documents and deny further requested testimony of the IG who obviously got it all very very wrong.

    July 12, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Gustave lusanga

    My bigest wory is well washington geting moore improvement why is tha can be dificult to suply others. We know was a dificult time but seemes to be shown a bit

    July 12, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray, as well as the Washington Post's editorial board, have been supportive of Walmart's efforts, arguing the economic development would be a net win for the city."

    Except that Walmart brings in its own building contractors, offers pittance for wages, and is overall not my idea of civic "economic" growth. But what the heck. Every city needs a Walmart on every street corner. Sometimes two or more, depending on the city. I know I have four Walmart's from which to choose from in a five mile radius, should I want to shop at Walmart, which I don't.

    Ah, but the traffic. That blasted noise, day in and day out. The overhead paging system. It's well worth every cent saved ... yes?

    July 12, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. it must be said

    Woman In California
    I, for one, would love to see them out of business.
    -----

    In 2010 they employeed 2,100,000 people. You are a complete imbecile. You would rather those 2 MILLION plus people (probably closer to 3 MILLION now) be unemployed and on the government dole. Ye,s actually, that IS the Democrat plan for this country. Wake up America. These are the people that are leading this country straight down the tubes.

    July 12, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    "What really tipped me over the edge was the fact that Walmart was sticking us up. By saying if you don't do this, we're going to do that–we're going to leave here," the Democrat said....
    ------------------
    Well. What was Walmart doing or saying to the DC politicians? No mention here of what it might have been.

    July 12, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. rs

    it must be said

    The bill, known as the Large Retailer Accountability Act, increases the city's minimum wage to $12.50, a 50% hike above the city's current minimum wage, which is already a dollar more than the minimum wage in neighboring Virginia and Maryland.

    Sounds more like the Large Retailer Get the Heck Out of Here Act. Why did they stop at $12.50? Why not $50 an hour?

    Stupid, stupid, stupid Democrats continue to do stuff like this then wonder where all the jobs are. Where are they??? Dead and buried after your insane attacks and laws. And all of the people will suffer because of it. Now what was that black unemployment rate in DC???
    ___________________________
    Three points:
    1. Jobs at WalMart are hardly worth being called such. Have a WalMart move to town and public assistance costs go up. Why? They won't employ people full-time, they offer no insurance a, and they don't provide even basic benefits.
    2. If WalMart can't do it, how can Costco? Costco does all the things WalMart won't. I beieve they are a "large company".
    3. WalMart sources as much of its goods for sale from China as it can- No impact on jobs there right?

    July 12, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    Let Washington have no stores for residents.

    July 12, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. just sayin

    the black unemployment rate in washington dc is 13.7%. almost twice the national average. smart move democrats. way to keep all those blacks on the unemployment line and on the democrat planatation. wake up black people. you are being used and abused by the democrats who could care less about you, except at election time.

    July 12, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. Fair is Fair

    1. Jobs at WalMart are hardly worth being called such. Have a WalMart move to town and public assistance costs go up. Why? They won't employ people full-time, they offer no insurance a, and they don't provide even basic benefits.
    -----–
    I may be dating myself (well, not much), but when I got my first job, it was at minimum wage. I'd go as far as to say MOST of the labor force also did. What is it with you people thinking that wveryone "deserves" a job starting at $50K per year, no matter what your contribution to the employer's bottom line is? You want the American dream? Start at the bottom and WORK your way up.

    July 12, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  15. JustAO

    Wal-Mart is a 'job creator' remember? They should be able to pay employees in peanuts because Americans should just be happy to be working in this Obama economy.

    Wal-Mart CEO gets paid $20,000,000 per year.
    Wal-Mart employee gets paid $25,000 per year.

    You know CEOs are smarter than the employees who run the stores, right?

    Guess which voters and legislators think this is a fair pay gap in America? Hint: it's not progressives.
    Isn't that what folks say about workers in Third World countries?

    July 12, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Live free , buy more , pay less .The world is our shopping mall !

    July 12, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    It must be said wrote:

    In 2010 they employeed 2,100,000 people. You are a complete imbecile. You would rather those 2 MILLION plus people (probably closer to 3 MILLION now) be unemployed and on the government dole.
    -------------------
    The fact of the matter is that most of those millions of people ARE on one form of public assistance or another. It's company policy to encourage their employees to obtain free benefits, instead of Walmart providing them.

    July 12, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Donna

    JustAO
    Wal-Mart is a 'job creator' remember? They should be able to pay employees in peanuts because Americans should just be happy to be working in this Obama economy.

    Wal-Mart CEO gets paid $20,000,000 per year.
    Wal-Mart employee gets paid $25,000 per year.
    -–

    The CEO of Walmart is responsible for making sure nearly 3,000,000 Walmart employees have a job to go to every day and Walmart succeeds and stays in business. He is actually under paid given how many lives are depending on him.

    July 12, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Guess

    Woman, the lost jobs, and business will be picked upby smaller companies, much more accomadating than walmart, you keep buying walmart, and we keep losing jobs, its shortsighted too say otherwise, flooding our shelves with cheap chinese crap was what started this mess,why is walmart so in the political shpere anyway? to make rich people richer, pay a decent wage and the government handouts are not so taxing to the rest of us, just sayin

    July 12, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I may be dating myself (well, not much), but when I got my first job, it was at minimum wage. I'd go as far as to say MOST of the labor force also did. What is it with you people thinking that wveryone "deserves" a job starting at $50K per year, no matter what your contribution to the employer's bottom line is? You want the American dream? Start at the bottom and WORK your way up."

    I too might be dating myself, Fair. I started at minimum wage flipping burgers at $.95 / hour. I can remember my first "raise" jumping me up to $1.25 / hour. Oh, the excitement was monumental. That being said, I do believe the cost of living has increased on a much higher level than wages have in the past 50 years. That Walmart is pulling in billions (somewhere near or at 14.7 B - don't quote me, I might be off a few billion) yearly profit is a testament to what Walmart leadership thinks is good economic growth. I don't remember the hamburger shop I first worked at hitting those profits ... nor to I remember folks trying to make a living off of flipping burgers in quite the same manner as so many Walmart employees are now trying to make a living off of their meager wages. There problem isn't working your way up in America. The problem is working your way out of the ditch. Not enough shovels ... to deep a ditch.

    July 12, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. it must be said

    Rudy NYC
    It must be said wrote:
    In 2010 they employeed 2,100,000 people. You are a complete imbecile. You would rather those 2 MILLION plus people (probably closer to 3 MILLION now) be unemployed and on the government dole.
    -------
    The fact of the matter is that most of those millions of people ARE on one form of public assistance or another. It's company policy to encourage their employees to obtain free benefits, instead of Walmart providing them.
    ---

    But this is the government welfare state you and the Democrats have built. And now you complain about people using it? Where is it an employers duty to provide for every employee need, no matter the cost? You leftists are amazing. You always, 100% of the time, blame others, for the messes YOU create.

    July 12, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. just me

    Yes, walmart employs a lotta people. Mostly at dirt wages and they unemploy a lotta people when they swoop in and force small businesses to close. Overall this country would be better off if Sam Walton had gone into running moonshine.

    July 12, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Greg in Arkansas

    @ it must be said: "In 2010 they employed 2,100,000 people. You are a complete imbecile. You would rather those 2 MILLION plus people ".......many those "people" used to have jobs at small businesses that wal-mart ran out of town when they moved in..
    There are 3 wal-marts within 10 miles of my home and I live 30 miles from a major city.....watched the last one being built (not open yet) in a small town where the small business are up-for-sale because they won't be able to compete...so, yes, they will be able to get a job at walley world for minimum wage with no benefits just as soon as they liquidate their business....

    July 12, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Get 'em Barry!
    It takes street smarts to deal with undercover thugs like Walmart.
    Don't be fooled by the suit Walmart, Barry's been around EVERY block a couple of times.
    Barry may be all that he is, proven and alleged, but one thing is for sure he's NOT going to let you screw his people in his town.

    July 12, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    2. If WalMart can't do it, how can Costco? Costco does all the things WalMart won't. I beieve they are a "large company".
    -------------------------------------------------
    EXCELLENT point rs.

    July 12, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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