This Kathleen Geier post in the Washington Monthly is good, and her argument is pretty compelling. However, regarding the D.C. big box living wage bill, she writes:
[P]oliticians hate the D.C. living wage bill, because they don’t want to drive Walmart away. The politicians want the photo ops at Walmart openings, where they can boast about bringing “good jobs” — um, well, okay, “jobs,” anyway — into the community.
To be fair, it’s not only about the fear of driving Walmart away. As soon as the bill was passed by the Council, other retailers allegedly began re-evaluating their plans to locate in the District. Isn’t it more accurate to say that politicians are afraid of appearing anti-business in general? In my experience that’s an especially sensitive issue for politicians in D.C., a city that faces tough competition for business from neighboring states Virginia and Maryland. Again, the threats from other retailers may turn out to be bogus—and even if they’re not, the long-term net impact on employment/wages might still by a positive one if this bill were to become law—but this notion that D.C. is “anti-business” is something that District politicians legitimately have to grapple with.
None of which is to deny that it’s a big problem when a Walmart ribbon-cutting ceremony serves as a fig leaf for politicians anywhere who are otherwise doing little to nothing to support good jobs, worker training, etc.
Education leaders in Biddeford, Maine have come up with a great idea (reported in the Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach Courier): let’s take our early childhood education leaders and put them in charge of adult education as well.
If the people accountable for early childhood education were also in charge of our adult education system, I think we’d start to see adult literacy more thoughtfully integrated into school readiness strategies, as well as a stronger push for adult literacy outcomes that are more closely tied to the role that parents and other caregivers play in the literacy development of their children. (And the evidence continues to build that this is one of the key strategies we should be taking to address early literacy development.)
There are, of course, many great family literacy program models that do the kinds of things described here, but what appears to be unique and encouraging about this is that it’s a district-wide strategy.
This is old news, but I was amused by Michael Neibauer’s lede in this January 30th article for the Washington Business Journal on Walmart’s opposition to a proposed living wage law in D.C.:
In the least surprising policy position ever, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will oppose D.C. Council legislation that would force it, and other big box retailers, to pay their employees a living wage.
Reading this article I was reminded of a statement provided to Neibauer for another Journal article back on August 28th, 2012:
“Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are dedicated to continuing and broadening our support of local organizations and important local initiatives across D.C., particularly in the critical areas of workforce development and economic opportunity, education, health & wellness and sustainability.” (my emphasis)