GrassrootsDC’s Living Wage Bill “Mixtape”

LRAA Petition Drop Off c/o the AFL-CIODespite the drop-off of over 30,000 petitions from DC residents urging the Mayor to sign the Large Retailer Accountability Act (pictured left), and a recent poll showing that a majority of residents support the LRAA, the Mayor used his pen to veto the bill. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, a vocal supporter of the bill, has rallied 8 votes in favor, but will need one more to override the Mayor’s veto. This override vote is scheduled as part of tomorrow’s legislative session, which will take place at the Wilson Building or available live online.

Meanwhile, what about those most affected by the living wage bill? GrassrootsDC’s Noelle Galos brings you this mixtape of DC residents, retail employees and organizers on what the LRAA means to them and how they feel about Wal-Mart’s presence in the District:

Mixed with Head Roc’s 2012 track “Keep DC Walmart Free,” these are the voices of:

Rev. Virginia Williams (native Washingtonian, Ward 7 resident)
Kimberly Mitchell (Macy’s employee, lifelong DC resident)
Tonya C. (former Wal-Mart employee, fired from a Laural, MD location)
Cindy Murray (13 year Wal-Mart associate at Hyattsville, MD store),
Mike Wilson (organizer with RespectDC)
Inocencio Quinones (Ward 7 resident & organizer with OurDC)

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this mixtape, including all the speakers listed above, Head Roc for the musical element, and the organizers that live-streamed a Wal-Mart protest from a Hyattsville, MD location on September 5th, 2013.

Audio download available (.mp3): Living Wage Bill Mixtape. Please share freely!

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DC mayor vetoes living wage ordinance

Today, Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed the controversial Large Retailer Accountability Act. The bill would have required retail stores with more than 75,000 square feet and whose parent company makes more than $1 billion annually, to pay workers a minimum wage of $12.50 an hour. FSRN’s Noelle Galos reports.

Wal-Mart workers protesting in North CarolinaCiting the negative impact on DC’s economy, including an alleged 4,000 lost jobs if Wal-Mart carried through on threats to halt construction of three stores, Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed the LRAA. Gray said it was “not a true living-wage bill, because it would raise the minimum wage only for a small fraction of the District’s workforce.” But living wage advocates argue large corporations like Wal-Mart are best able to afford the payroll increase. Cindy Murray, a 13-year Wal-Mart employee, spoke out in favor of the proposed law at a town hall last month.

“If you look at the wages today, $12.50 is nothing. They could do that without passing it onto the consumers, and I want them to stop saying they need to pass it onto the consumer. What is wrong with taking it out of their profit? Because they can still make billions, even after paying us a decent wage.”

Next Tuesday, the City Council has scheduled an override vote with the hopes that they can sway one more council member to get to a veto-proof majority. Wal-Mart said today it would resume construction on the three stores only if the bill fails.  Similar measures in Chicago and New York in years past were not able to successfully override Mayoral vetoes. Noelle Galos, FSRN, Washington, DC.

Listen or download audio here.

DC wants to cast ballot in any congressional vote on military action in Syria

DC Veteran Speaking at War Memorial in front of Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor GrayCongress returned to Washington today and immediately took up the possible use of military force against Syria. But despite paying federal taxes and often having served in the military,  DC residents are not represented in the debate. The District of Colombia’s non-voting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, called today for DC to be included in a Congressional vote. FSRN’s Noelle Galos reports.

Standing in front of the D.C. War Memorial, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton joined local officials and DC veterans today to remind President Obama that as he seeks Congressional approval for the use of military force in Syria, he should remember the D.C. women and men who served in the military, but don’t have  representation in Congress.

NORTON: “For us, the slogan of the revolutionary war now has a perverse meaning. Give your country your money, and prepare to give your life, but do not expect to have a say on either.”

Norton added that with the evidence she’s seen thus far, she’d vote no.

NORTON: “I haven’t heard more of the intelligence and perhaps there’s something I don’t know, but I certainly am not convinced by what I’ve heard.”

Norton drew attention to the many Congressional representatives who can vote and who have been inundated by constituents who are against military strikes in Syria.

Many members of Congress, including those who voted for intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, are bringing back  anti-war messages from their constituents. Politico reports that of the 83 Republicans still in Congress  voted to give George W. Bush authorization to invade Iraq, only 10 have come out in support of military action in Syria. Noelle Galos, Free Speech Radio News, Washington.

Download or listen here.