Action Coincides With New National Ad Campaign by Retail Giant
100 Leaders Release Statements to CEO Lee Scott, Elected Officials
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — One week before the
nation observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day, religious, political, civil
rights and business leaders from New York, Atlanta, Oakland, Chicago,
Washington D.C., and other cities held a national telepress conference in
which they called on the world’s largest retailer to create good jobs and
become a responsible community partner.
In conjunction with the press conference, two statements from more than
100 urban leaders across the country were released — one demanding that
Wal- Mart and its CEO Lee Scott change their approach to urban communities,
the other calling on elected officials to enact policies that encourage the
creation of good jobs in urban America.
A new report was also released today by the Los Angeles Alliance for a
New Economy (LAANE) and the Partnership for Working Families. “Wal-Mart and
Beyond: The Battle for Good Jobs and Strong Communities in Urban America”
documents the extensive negative impacts of Wal-Mart and offers a series of
strategies both to hold Wal-Mart and other companies accountable, and to
create good jobs in urban neighborhoods.
The telepress conference and release of the statements and reports
coincides with a new national ad campaign by Wal-Mart designed to repair
its image following high-profile efforts over the past several years to
educate Americans about the company’s negative impacts on workers,
communities, businesses and taxpayers.
“Wal-Mart has positioned itself squarely in the path of workers and
communities seeking to realize Dr. King’s dream of civil and economic
equality,” said Tracy Gray-Barkan, Director of Retail Policy at LAANE and
author of the new report. “It’s time for Wal-Mart to address the real
problems it creates for communities instead of trying to fix its image
through multi- million dollar public relations campaigns.” Wal-Mart continues to meet resistance to its aggressive attempts to expand into urban markets around the country. Wal-Mart employees earn 20
percent less than what the average retail worker earns, and over $10,000
less than what the average two-person family needs to meet its basic needs.
The company enrolls fewer than half of its employees in its costly health
insurance plan, compared to 67 percent for the average large employer.
Wal-Mart moved recently to reduce the number of full-time jobs, establish
wage caps on hourly jobs and institute scheduling rules in an effort to
weed out older employees and employees with family responsibilities.
“Too often, we hear that for our communities, any job is a good job,”
said Rev. Lennox Yearwood, CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus in Washington, D.C.,
and National Director for the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign. “We reject the
idea that minority communities should settle for low-paying jobs without a
California State Senator Gil Cedillo said the company’s low prices come
at too high a cost. “In order for our communities to achieve the American
Dream, we need more than poverty-wage jobs. We need economic development that
meets the real needs of our communities — good jobs that allow working
people to support their families and provide a better life to their