NYC’s war on Walmart
Residents of America’s largest city are at war with America’s largest corporation.Thousands of New Yorkers have mobilized against Walmart, campaigning and demonstrating on the streets to keep NYC Walmart free.
“All the little stores, the mom and pop stores, will be destroyed. They can’t be competitive to a Walmart,” said Norman Frazier, a Brooklyn resident opposing Walmart in NYC.
The corporate behemoth has been aggressively aiming to break ground in the big apple, spending millions on an ad campaign that promises to bring affordable groceries and quality jobs to low income communities.
“We all want jobs but what’s going to happen when they come in? All the little bodega’s the supermarkets are going to go out of business. Is that going to create more jobs? You’re going to win two jobs but then you’re going to lose three,” said Maria Maisonet, a Brooklyn resident who opposes Walmart in NYC.
The world’s largest retailer wields unmatched buying power and prices impossible for small businesses to beat.Past studies have shown urban Walmart stores absorbing sales, causing up to 25 percent of surrounding shops to shut down. New York City supply shop owner Leni Juca calls Walmart a weapon of mass jobs destruction.
“Eventually we’ll all be affected by it,” said Juca.
Small business owners like Juca can’t compete against Walmart’s powerful influence on US politics.
“We as small business’, we don’t have that kind of power. We don’t have two-hundred, three-hundred thousand dollars to help somebody lobby as representative,” Juca said.
According to published reports, in 2010, Walmart donated more than $3 million to federal officials or candidates through their political action committee, and spent more than $6 million on lobbyists.
The multi-national corporation has also spent hundreds of millions of dollars fighting or settling employee lawsuits involving low wages, labor law violations, inadequate health care and gender discrimination.
Last year Walmart sales generated $405 billion. Meanwhile new store employees in the US are paid on average $8.75 an hour, with a reported yearly income of less than $14,000. The store’s notorious anti-union policies have been criticized for stripping employees of fair wages and benefits.
Ernastine Bassit has worked for Walmart for four years and says she’s never received a raise.
“If you confront management with a problem, the majority of times they’ll tell the women that they have an attitude,” said Ernestanine Bassit, a Walmart Employee.
Opponents accuse Walmart of aiming to keeping workers and shoppers dependent on one mighty power. New Yorkers say their battle reflects a nationwide need to break free from corporate colonialism, and the profits that drive them.
Filmmaker and author Douglas Rushkoff said the fundamental focus of the corporate economy must change; there must be a focus on innovation and community to make profits, not on draining others dry.
The best thing to do is to promote American small businesses and local exchange, he argued. The promotion of small businesses is the best way to achieve economic recovery, not major corporations.
“The way for a big company to make money is by extracting value, either from resources or from people,” he said. “Until we can reflip the economy towards innovation rather than exploitation, we’re going to keep running up against these same walls.”