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Advocacy group laments DC City Council’s failure to revive ‘Livable Wage Act’

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September 17, 2013
Contact: Ben Klein, NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington, DC-- Today the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy group expressed disappointment at the District of Columbia City Council’s failure to find the ninth vote needed to overturn DC Mayor Vincent Gray’s recent veto of the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) or Livable Wage Act. The bill would raise the hourly wage and benefits of workers at big box stores in DC to $12.50 an hour, $4.25 more than the current minimum wage these workers receive.

Initially, the LRAA passed the City Council with an 8 to 5 vote in July. One more vote was needed – a total of 9 votes – to override the Mayor’s Sept. 12th veto. The Council failed to achieve that vote today.

The Washington, DC-based National Consumers League (NCL), which had previously supported the Act and praised the DC City Council for its passage, has repeatedly called on the Council to override the Mayor’s veto. The LRAA would require DC retailers whose parent companies do more than $1 billion in sales annually, pay their employees the DC living wage and benefits of $12.50 an hour. 

NCL has a long history of supporting the interests of workers and consumers since its founding in 1899, and NCL’s first General Secretary, Florence Kelley, wrote the first state minimum wage laws in the US.

“We have urged the DC City Council to override the Mayor’s veto of the LRAA and support the goal to ‘establish a code of conduct for responsible retailers in our community, ensuring that large retailers pay their workers a living wage and provide affordable health benefits,’” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director.

According to a recent survey commissioned by a coalition of groups coordinated by the National Consumers League and conducted by Lake Research Partners, a solid majority of likely Democratic primary voters in the District of Columbia’s Ward 3 supports the LRAA.

“We are deeply disappointed at the failure of this legislation. DC had a chance to set a standard for the nation on what we expect of big box retailers. Instead, we have let the big and powerful triumph over the interests of the working poor,” said Greenberg. “The Large Retailer Accountability Act provided a real chance at helping to lift DC workers out of poverty. What a lost opportunity.”

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.