Community coalitions in major cities tell elected officials to reject Walmart or impose strong standards
Coalitions in cities targeted for new Walmart stores gathered and took strategic actions on April 21, 2011 to urge elected leaders to make sure Walmart’s desire to open or expand stores is rejected or met with enforcement of strong standards.
In cities across the United States, Walmart is seeking access to new markets and customers, spurring local and national debate for good reason. Local coalitions of community members, elected officials, religious leaders, small business owners and others are joining together and speaking out to voice their concern and ensure the jobs being offered by Walmart meet strong standards for healthy, growing communities.
Jobs with Justice is playing a key role in these coalitions, either coordinating or participating in a number of cities including: Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Other cities where local coalitions held aligned events include: Los Angeles, Seattle. Here are some highlights:
In San Francisco:
Jobs with Justice joined together with a number of community organizations to publicly announce the formation of the coalition to “Keep San Francisco Walmart-Free”. They held a rally and press-conference with roughly 30 community activists, people of faith, elected officials and workers at the City Hall. Members of the Coalition to address the crowd and the press included among others: the South of Market Action Coalition and People Organized to Wine Employment Rights (POWER), and Jobs with Justice. Following the rally and press-event, members of the newly formed coalition visited members of the City’s Board of Supervisors and shared information of concern to them regarding Walmart’s business practices and their impact on communities they have been allowed to operate in.
In Washington, DC:
The Respect DC Coalition came together to hold a press event at Walmart’s office in D.C. to unveil their version of a community benefit agreement, which would provide guaranteed standards be upheld by Walmart, should it move into the District of Columbia around issues of wages and benefits for retail center employees, local hiring, equality in training and promotion regarding people of color and women, environmental concerns, etc. Following the press event, a delegation of concerned community members delivered a letter communicating this to Walmart’s management. At the time this is being written, there is no report of a response from the company’s representatives.
Jobs with Justice and the “Boston Wants Good Jobs Coalition” hosted a community breakfast to discuss the fact that Walmart is seeking to enter Boston and to build greater unity among organized community and labor forces as it is necessary to apply enough pressure to the city’s government and the Company to force a genuine dialogue with the community to discuss what conditions would be required for the community to allow Walmart to come in. This event has helped grow the Boston Wants Good Jobs Coalition and there will be follow-up conversations over the coming days to solidify additional community, faith and student groups joining the Coalition.
In New York City:
Jobs with justice joined forces with their partners in the “Walmart-Free NYC” Coalition to hold a press conference and rally at a site in East New York, Brooklyn where a developer – i.e., Related seeks to build a Walmart store. After a spirited rally and press conference, activists fanned out to leaflet the area in preparation for a city council hearing where Related and Walmart will seek permission to develop on the site.
See this related video of a flash mob held at Related’s headquarters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEI0jx5-8MQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Jobs with Justice along with community, faith-based and student allies held an event at the residential building where Walmart is reportedly seeking to open a small convenience store-style operation known as “Walmart Express”.
Jobs with Justice and UFCW Local 1776 visited key city council offices to share important information around Walmart’s track-record of not respecting workers’ or community rights and standards.
In these cities and others, broad-based coalitions of concerned community, faith, student and labor based organizations will continue to monitor movements made by Walmart seeking entry into their cities and will continue to build and apply pressure to developers and elected officials to ensure Walmart’s expansion plans are either rejected or met with a dialogue with the community to produce enforceable standards that help strengthen the communities and cities and not weaken them as has been reported in other places where Walmart has been allowed to set up shop.
Also theses coalitions will be talking with each other across the country to share strategies around local work and discuss strategies to hold Walmart accountable on the national level to support their work on the ground. One thing is for sure, there will be much more to come on this front of struggle to protect community self-determination and control standards around employment, economic development and environmental impact.
Here’s a collection of press coverage from around the country:
Coalition to talk with Walmart
Labor, neighbors rally against Lakeview Walmart
Lakeview Residents Tell Walmart To Go Away [with video]
Why Does WalMart Want In On Lakeview?
Neighbors Protest East Lakeview Walmart Plan
Gran oposición a posible tienda Wal-Mart en Chicago
Protest held over proposed Lakeview Walmart
ABC 7 Chicago
For Lakeview locals, prospect of Wal-Mart is a no-sale
Medill Reports Chicago
Residents Protest Lakeview Walmart
Fox Chicago News
Walmart D.C. foes release demands
Washington Business Journal
Protesters target Wal-Mart’s D.C. plans
Groups want Wal-Mart to promise living wage for D.C. workers
Respect DC to Walmart: Put it in Writing!
Respect DC Blog
Respect DC Letter to Walmart
Respect DC YouTube Channel
Community Benefits Message Cannot be Silenced by Walmart
Respect DC Blog
Respect DC Flickr Page
New York City
Possible Walmart opening in old Brooklyn landfill has small business owners, politicians protesting
New York Daily News
Mixed reaction continues on Wal-Mart in NYC [with video]
Group challenges proposed NYC Wal-Mart [paywall]
Walled off! Advocates urge city to block land grab by ‘Walmart’ developer
The Brooklyn Paper
SF Politicians, Labor Groups Vow to Fight Non-Existent Walmart Stores [Tony Alexander, Local 5, quoted]
The Bay Citizen
Report – Broken Promises: Does Walmart do what Walmart says they’ll do for local communities?
UFCW Local 21 Blog
Business Briefs: Union report raises questions about Wal-Mart
Herald Net (WA)