Wal-Mart in Richmond?
More than 4,000 union members and community supporters, including many Wal-Mart workers, marched in Los Angeles Saturday. They opposed the chain's bid to bring its tornado of destruction into urban centers. Labor Notes
Photo: Slobodan Dimitrov.
Will Wal-Mart sneak into the old Albertson's Super Market, at Macdonald and San Pablo?
The issue is now before the Planning Commission which is looking into issues of air quality, noise, and traffic for a proposal to put a new supermarket at that location.
The problem is that the proposal is not specifying who would actually occupy the site, and there is good reason to believe that it is Wal-Mart. Neighbors, local businesses and unions are mounting a campaign to prevent Wal-Mart from locating there, Despite the undeniable need for more grocery stores in Richmond, Wal-Mart destroys the surrounding communities when it moves it.
The movement against Wal-Mart is nationwide. Last week thousands marched in Los Angeles, opposing the chain.
Why so much opposition to a particular store in a community that wants to attract new stores? Don Gosney recently put it very well on the Richmond Politics discussion list.
There are a lot of arguments against a Wal-Mart in any community and only a few arguments for them.
There will always be some who think that Wal-Mart is their salvation and they don't know how they ever lived without one. Who could argue with cheaply priced foreign made products manufactured in sweat shops by prison and child laborers?
Others, though, will tell you how Wal-Marts are community killers. How they undercut virtually every small business-even selling at a loss-until, they've driven these businesses out of business (and then raise their prices back up to a profitable level). In most communities those mom and pop family owned markets disappear very quickly. Even Safeway and Lucky stores are at risk.
Some will tell you that their anti-union position is contradictory to this community where fair living wages and benefits have become expected for all workers.
Some will tell you that their failure to provide usable health care benefits to their workers hurt the community. When they opened in Hilltop--before they drove most of the smaller shops out of business both inside the mall and surrounding it--they tried to assuage the naysayers by pointing out that they paid $645 per year for a full time employee for health care benefits (about 31¢ per hour) as if this could really provide health care insurance. [They also hand out pamphlets to their workers showing them how to take advantage of taxpayer supplied County health care.]
And then there will be those that complain how virtually everything they sell comes from oversees-negating the benefits to American workers who could use a few jobs, too. They might also mention how these workers are treated overseas and the lack of decent jobsite conditions and worker safety laws.
But there will always be some in our community who will welcome any store that offers them what they want for a lower price-no matter what the cost to the community is.