Higher Wal-Mart wages encouraging to Pa. lawmaker

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker says Wal-Mart’s announcement that it will give raises to worker nationwide is good news for her proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage.

Wal-Mart CEO C. Douglas McMillon released a video statement on Thursday explaining the decision behind raising wages for roughly 500,000 employees.

“It’s clear to me that one of the highest priorities today must be on investment in you, our associates,” he said.

Some national experts believed the move may have been a preemptive strike before workers could wage a strike of their own. There were mixed reactions on ABC 27’s Facebook page following the announcement of the nation’s largest employer.

State Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) has been pushing a bill to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage. Wal-Mart’s announcement is encouraging in her eyes.

“I mean, this is so exciting,” she said.

Kim said Wal-Mart is Pennsylvania’s third-largest employer. She believes with so many people working at Wal-Mart earning the $7.25 minimum wage, the hike could ease some financial strife.

“That will lift so many people out of poverty,” she said.

The wages will bump to $9 an hour in April, $10 in February 2016. That nearly mirrors Kim’s bill, which pushes for increases over a two-year period. The wage increase will also bump Wal-Mart’s middle-level associates.

“Where do you think they’ll spend their money? Back at Wal-Mart, they get a discount,” Kim said.” This is a win-win for Wal-Mart.”

McMillon said Wal-Mart would spend $1 billion to hike wages and training, although he did not say if that would be passed onto the consumers with higher prices in stores. Kim believes other employers could follow suit to retain workers, which could bode well for state lawmakers in favor of increasing Pennsylvania’s minimum wages.

“With their lead, this is going to make our push to raise the minimum wage a lot easier,” Kim said.

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