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Md. Wants Wal-Mart To Pay Fair Wages

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By Cathy Duchamp

Baltimore was the first city in the nation to require businesses with city contracts to pay workers a so-called living wage.

This week efforts are underway to apply that law to Walmart, which wants to open a store in the city.

Matthew Weinstein works for the pro-labor group Progressive Maryland.

The way Weinstein sees it, Walmart has saturated the suburbs, and needs new stores in cities in order to grow: "And they can have a crack at it if they will abide by the community standards that we are fighting for," he says.

This week, Weinstein will lobby the Baltimore Planning Commission to make zoning approval for a retail site contingent on a living-wage agreement.

If Walmart wants to build on the site, it would have to pay workers close to $11 an hour.

Weinstein says that would boost the purchasing power of Baltimore citizens.

Opponents say it will keep new businesses away.

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