Obama congratulates Walmart CEO on wage hike

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama on Wednesday called Walmart CEO Doug McMillion to applaud him for raising wages for his workers $1.75 above the federal minimum wage.

According to the White House, the President made the call aboard Air Force One on Wednesday afternoon.
Walmart announced last week it would raise wages for half a million of its full-time workers to $9 in April, and by next February, their hourly wages will increase to $10.
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    The friendly call marked a considerable turnaround in his relationship with the big-box giant since his first run for president.
    In remarks to an AFL-CIO town hall in 2007, then-Sen. Obama said that he wouldn't shop at Walmart stores, because, "as profitable as they are, there's no reason they can't afford to pay" higher wages to their workers.
    And on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama criticized primary opponent Hillary Clinton for sitting on the board of what he called "one of the least environmentally friendly, least labor union-friendly companies in the country."
    But he's since come around to Walmart, touting the store's commitment to green energy practices and efforts to hire veterans in recent years, and a Wednesday statement from the White House lauded its salary move as an example for other companies to emulate.
    Another major retailer, TJX Companies, which owns T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods, followed suit this week with wage hikes for their workers to roughly the same levels as Walmart's.
    In a statement, the White House noted that a number of states, cities and major companies have independently decided to raise wages for their workers, but urged Congress to pick up the torch on the issue and pass a minimum wage hike.
    "The President again calls on Congress to [raise the minimum wage], helping to ensure that no American who works full time has to raise a family in poverty, and that every American who works hard has the opportunity to succeed," the White House said in a statement.
    Conservatives have opposed raising the minimum wage because they say it will hurt businesses and cost jobs.