The debate over the living-wage bill has been highly pitched, echoing conflicts elsewhere in the country over similar measures targeting Wal-Mart and other “big box” retailers.
Several dozen pro-Wal-Mart protesters rallied on the front steps of the John A. Wilson Building on Wednesday, while inside a larger group of living-wage supporters walked from council office to council office hoping to pick up additional votes.
“If you allow a bully to bully you, it’s never going to end,” said the Rev. Graylan Hagler, the senior pastor of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ and a leader of pro-living-wage group Respect DC. “There will be something else. There will always be another agenda.”
Hagler and union supporters hailed what they called the council’s resolve in the face of Wal-Mart’s warning but acknowledged that fending off a mayoral veto could prove difficult. “We’ve got some work to do,” he said.
Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) said the company’s threats were credible and constituted her “worst nightmare.” She moved unsuccessfully to table the bill Wednesday before voting against it.