Wednesday, July 10

D.C. council passes law to force WalMart to pay employees at least $12.50 an hour if it wants to open a store in D.C.

[See Update at end of post.]

If you're a leftist you won't find anything wrong with what I'm about to describe.

Seems WalMart--a non-union company--had plans to open six new stores in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Washington D.C.   The stores would provide 1,800 new jobs.  But union leaders knew that if the new stores were built, business at unionized competitors would almost certainly plummet, so they got their friends on the D.C. council to introduce a very special bill.

This bill provided that any company wanting to open a store bigger than 75,000 square feet would have to pay a mininum wage of $12.50 per hour--unless the store's employees were members of a union.

The minimum wage in D.C. is $8.25 per hour.

Short answer:  the bill was designed to apply only to WalMart.  It was also designed to be the wedge that could destroy the company, because if D.C. got away with this, other liberal, Democrat-run councils would see the opportunity to do the same thing.  Having to pay a minimum wage 50 percent above that paid by competitors would presumably either force the company to raise their prices to uncompetitive levels or would make the stores money-losers.  Or WalMart could unionize.  With any of these outcomes the unions would win.

The council knew it had the company over a barrel, since three of the stores were already under construction.  Almost no one believed the company would abandon these projects and simply write off all their costs.  It was a perfect extortion plot.

WalMart execs warned the council that if it passed the bill, the company would reconsider building the stores.

Oooh, you can't ever threaten Democrat pols by telling 'em the consequences of stupid bills (like Obamacare or the Porkulus or Cash for Clunkers or or or...).  The council passed the bill.

But always remember, children, Democrats strongly support poor working folks and will do everything they can to help them.  So when activists complain that inner-city residents have a hard time finding fresh, inexpensive food and low-priced necessities near their homes, Democrats will pressure big retailers to open stores there.  Unless it's WalMart.

When inner-city residents complain about a lack of jobs available to unskilled workers, Democrats will wheedle big retailers to open stores there.  Unless it's WalMart or any other big, successful, non-unionized company.  Cuz you folks really don't want any of those insulting ol' $8.25 an hour jobs when we've made it so you can get paid just as well for not working a lick.

What's really funny is to read some of the 5,000-plus comments to the WaPo article about this.  It's amazing how many commenters hate WalMart.  Real class-warfare stuff.

But always remember, Democrats tirelessly fight for the working man.  Reeaally. Trust us.  And passing this law to force WalMart to pay 50 percent more than the current minimum wage was just us trying to help you working folks.

Clueless morons.  That would be the D.C. council, all leftists and any working stiff who believes 'em.

WalMart hasn't announced whether it will continue with its plans to open the six stores.  So the drama hasn't fully played out yet.  If the company presses on with its plans I suspect we'll see this trumpeted by every liberal rag as a huge victory:  "D.C. Democrats force WalMart to pay a living wage!"  By contrast, if the company abandons its plans--removing 1800 jobs from D.C.'s poorest neighborhoods, I suspect you won't hear a word about it.

Finally a legal postscript:  When the U.S. was founded there was a legal principle that laws had to apply equally to all parties.  The notion of passing a law imposing a tax on just the five richest people in the land would have horrified the founders.

This principle was regarded as so fundamental, so vital to a decent society that the Supreme Court extended it to provide that the courts would reject as unconstitutional even a law that applied to all persons if the burden of obeying it was deemed by the court to fall disproportionately on one group of citizens.

This of course was the basis for the court's finding that even though "poll taxes" applied to all, they were nevertheless illegal.

But in the last 100 years or so politicians gradually abandoned this fundamental principle.  The notion that the government could tax peoples' income at vastly different rates would have shocked the founders.  Similarly the idea that congress would write a provision into law allowing the president to exempt specific, named companies from complying with requirements regarding taxes or health insurance would have been shocking.

The D.C. law was so narrowly written as to leave little doubt that it was intended to apply to one specific company.  Theoretically this should make it clearly unconstitutional.  But given the wholesale disregard of fundamental legal principles by all courts in the U.S. during the reign of Obama, if you were a WalMart attorney, would you trust the courts to uphold the fading principle that laws must apply equally to all?

UPDATE:  After the council passed the bill a WalMart spokesman said the company was scrapping plans for three of the stores and will review its plans for the three stores already under construction.

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