Councilmember Mendelson challenges Mayor to sign living wage bill at MLK/statehood rally

UPDATE: The LRAA is scheduled to be sent to the Mayor on August 28th, the exact anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Justice

On the morning of the 24th of August,DC Mayor Gray spoke at the DC statehood rally at the DC War Memorial, avoiding issues of economic equality within the city. Shortly therafter, DC Councilmember Phil Mendelson spoke about the living wage bill (LRAA) as part of continuing what Martin Luther King fought for.

video contrasting Mayor’s speech with Mendelson’s words on the LRAA



Mayor Gray on the one hand is believed to be leaning towards vetoing the the Large Retailer Accountability Act or LRAA to prevent Wal-Mart from abandoning their plans for DC, yet he spoke at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. One of the demands at that march was to raise the minimum wage. Now the Mayor has an opportunity to put his money where his mouth is!

Martin Luther King was fighting for better wages for sanitation workers in Memphis when he was assasinated. One of the original demands of the 1963 March on Washington was to raise the minimum wage.

The DC Council has passed the LRAA, which will raise the minimum wage for workers at big box stores with at least $1 billion in corporate revenue to $12.50 an hour including benefits in the calculation. By speaking of the “living wage” legislation, even without naming the bill, Phil Mendelson has effectively challenged the Mayor to either stand my Martin Luther King’s work for higher wages(and sign the LRAA) or else make a mockery of his own words about “hypocrisy” spoken at the DC War Memorial. Even without using either the name of the LRAA or even mentioning the talk that the Mayor would veto the bill, Councilmember Mendelson may have made the Mayor an offer he can’t refuse!

Present at the Statehood rally and march was a contingent from Our DC, and opponents of Wal-Mart coming to DC were sprinkled throughout the crowd. Wal-Mart has a dream of their own, one of extending a low wage, anti-union “Neo-Confederate” business model to DC and other big Northeast cities.

Shortly therafter, the DC Statehood contingent set out for the main rally, marching to 17th st where the only public entrance seemed to be. The entire Martin Luther King 50th anniversary remembrance was surrounded by fences and even some military troops, and much confusion reigned about what was happening when, with the stage entirely out of earshot.

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