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February 24, 2005

Wal-Mart Fails in Bid to Enter NYC

Wal-Mart has become so radioactive that even other capitalists don't want to associate with them:

Facing intense opposition, a large real estate developer has dropped its plans to include a Wal-Mart store in a Queens shopping complex, thwarting Wal-Mart's plan to open its first store in New York City.
The decision of Wal-Mart to pull out in the face of labor and community opposition is part of a broader trend in New York City of scrutinizing the labor policies of other big box stores in the city. Just two weeks ago, the City Council's Land Use Committee unanimously voted to block a Bronx site for a proposed B.J.'s Wholesale Club, a notoriously anti-labor company.

Still, I'm ultimately skeptical that these strategies to just block Wal-Mart from major cities is enough. There are thousands of Wal-Marts already built across the country, so we need a strategy, town by town, city by city, to force them to raise labor standards and grant public access to their property to allow labor and community groups to educate the public and employees about problems at Wal-Mart, as well as at similar retail outfits. As previously discussed, the City of Hartford already has enacted a public access law, Montana is proposing to require that large retailers pay a living wage or face additional taxation, and the City of Chicago is debating a bill to require both access and living wages by large retailers.

Wal-Mart is no doubt here to stay as part of the fabric of our economy. But just as the anti-union auto corporations of the 1920s were forced to improve job conditions for their workers in the 1930s and 1940s by a combination of legislation and union organizing, so too must we work to force Wal-Mart to become a responsible employer that is a net contributor to labor standards, and not a drain on our public resources.

Posted by Nathan at February 24, 2005 07:27 AM