Washington, DC - The Wal-Mart Watch community across the country is taking action to prevent Wal-Mart from using the recession to enter new communities.
Over the past several weeks, more than 25,000 letters have been sent to the city councils of New York, Chicago and LA - urging them to protect their constituents by blocking Wal-Mart store projects in their cities. Over 1,500 different state legislators have received letters as well, urging them to contact their members of Congress to express support for the Employee Free Choice Act and health care reform.
Wal-Mart has famously failed to build stores in Chicago, New York City and central LA - as well as other urban centers like DC, Philadelphia and Detroit - because citizens there oppose the company's business and labor practices. Now that the economy has weakened, Wal-Mart is looking for desperate local officials to change their minds.
Unfortunately, the company hasn't changed - only the economy has.
"This campaign is making it clear to local officials - and to Wal-Mart - that Americans know nothing has changed in Bentonville," said David Nassar, spokesman for Wal-Mart Watch. "The Walton Family and Wal-Mart executives continue to make billions in profit while their workers live on poverty level wages and poor health care. And all the while, the company is spending millions to fight the Employee Free Choice Act - the one thing on the table which could help protect its workers and the communities in which it operates."
Wal-Mart's business model depends on rapid growth, and Wal-Mart has saturated most of the United States - leaving American's big cities as the largest potential market for expansion. In Chicago, the Tribune reported that Wal-Mart is considering up to 12 store locations for 5 possible stores. The LA Times reported that Wal-Mart is in high-level talks to build a store in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood of central LA. And in New York, there have been repeated rumors that Wal-Mart is eyeing possible stores in Union Square and elsewhere.
This letter writing campaign shows there is still plenty of opposition to Wal-Mart in America's biggest cities. Unfortunately for Wal-Mart, without those markets, the company will face the same problem coming out of the recession that they faced going into it: Wal-Mart customers don't spend enough at their existing stores on non-grocery items and they can't build new stores fast enough in wealthy and population-rich centers.
"Wal-Mart Watch has been saying for years that Wal-Mart has a problem," said Nassar. "The recession has made life easy for the company, but once the economy is healthy again - Wal-Mart will likely find itself with less customers and nowhere to grow."
Over 25,000 Letters Sent Urging No New Wal-Mart Stores Until EFCA Passes
Over 25,000 Letters Sent To City Councils of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles
Wal-mart Watch, June 23, 2009
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