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DC: Big Box Wage and Benefits Bill Introduced

Following Chicago's lead, DC Councilman Phill Mendelson has introduced a bill to require large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Costco to pay employees a living wage of $11 an hour plus health benefits worth at least $3 a hour. The bill also would give labor groups and the public access to public areas of a firm to communicate with employees about their rights. As we detailed in last week's Dispatch, a major committee and a majority of Chicago City Council members have endorsed a similar bill for that city.

Some critics have questioned applying different minimum wage rates to large retailers, but in fact, as this chart indicates, the federal minimum wage historically had different rates for both different industries and different size firms within various industries, including different minimum wage rates for large versus small retailers.   Large retailers like Wal-Mart clearly exercise disproportionate power in the marketplace and are therefore more profitable than many smaller firms, so it is reasonable for communities to demand a higher wage rate for workers in such large retailers.

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