Respect DC: Living Wages, Healthy Communities


JUFJ is a partner in the Living Wages, Healthy Communities Coalition, which demands that Walmart respect DC residents, businesses, and communities as it moves into the District. 

The Situation:

 

Walmart is in the process of building six stores in the District.

Respect DC has worked to educate community members about Walmart’s checkered track record of paying poverty-level wages, forcing competitors to close, causing a net loss of jobs, breaking its promises, and multiple lawsuits alleging that the company discriminates against female employees and engages in wage theft, including the largest sex discrimination class action lawsuit in U.S history.

 

Because of the economic realities in DC’s underserved and often impoverished communities, we are sensitive to the fact that residents in these areas may prefer Walmart jobs over no jobs. Respect DC is not an anti-Walmart coalition. Instead, our aim is to ensure that Walmart signs a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in which they will guarantee, among other things, local hiring, living wages, and small business protections. Walmart does not have a good track record of keeping their promises to communities, which is why an enforceable CBA is the primary goal of the campaign.

 

Our Role:

 

JUFJ helped Living Wages, Healthy Communities reach out to a wide range of communities, and build a strong voice for a binding Community Benefits Agreement between Walmart and citizen groups. We advocated at the DC City Council, developed a media and visibility strategy, and canvassed our friends and neighbors to gain support for the Agreement.

The Result:

On November 22, 2011, Walmart agreed to sign a Community Benefits Agreement that fell short of our goals, but still represented a victory for the people of DC. By signing the CBA, Walmart promised to contract with small and minority-owned businesses for construction of its stores and to invest in local work-force development. They also loosely committed to hiring District residents. Walmart did not commit to paying any wages or benefits beyond what is mandated by city law, which spurred the campaign for the Large Retailer Accountability Act. They also did not commit to enforceable targets for local hiring. The work is ongoing to gain these important commitments from Walmart.