July 15, 2013

In the July 11 front-page article “Council approves ‘living wage’ bill,” The Post placed front and center the claim that the District’s Large Retailer Accountability Act requires big-box-store employers to pay “a 50 percent premium over the city’s minimum wage,” a phrasing that could have left readers wondering whether the act goes too far. It is important to note, however, that the act calls not for a $12.50 wage but rather a $12.50 wage minus benefits, stating clearly: “The prorated hourly cost of any benefits that a large retailer chooses to provide an employee may be credited toward payment of the minimum hourly compensation required under this act.”

If Wal-Mart gave its District employees the health benefits they deserve, their minimum wage under the act would amount to significantly less than a “50 percent premium” over the current wage. Within the limits of the act, Wal-Mart can pay an hourly wage less than $12.50 if it offers its District workers, as the act states, “benefits related to health care, retirement security, disability, training and education, or paid leave.”

Peter Davis, Falls Church

The ultimate irony of this story is that Wal-Mart stands accused of being a bully when, in fact, it is the D.C. Council that effectively resorted to force to disrupt the freedom of contract between consenting parties (i.e., Wal-Mart and its potential employees).

Michael R. Strobl, Stafford

The Post quoted supporters of the D.C. Council’s vote as saying Wal-Mart “made $17 billion on sales of $470 billion” and so “could afford to pay better wages.”Hold on! That’s only a 3.6 percent profit on sales. In nearly all the communities where Wal-Mart operates, the government takes a higher percentage in sales tax. For example, the District takes 6 percent of sales. So, the guy who invests all the capital, takes all the risk and hires all the workers makes less than the government, which simply taxes the transaction. Nowthe very same government wants more for its union friends. Something is very wrong with that picture.

Jerry Duffy, Gambrills