Open Letter from Majority of New York City Council Members Calls on Walmart and the Walton Foundation to Stop All Their So-Called Philanthropy in NYC
New York, NY—Walmart stores have been kept out of New York City, and now Walmart’s dangerous dollars must be, too. That blunt message was delivered today by Council Members at City Hall, where they were joined by labor leaders, community leaders, and residents.
Participants were responding to the fact that Walton Family Foundation has recently increased its spending in the most-coveted urban market in the country, where embattled Walmart has been consistently refused entry in the past and rebuffed by the Walmart-Free NYC campaign.
This uptick in so-called philanthropic giving was forcefully condemned in an open letter signed by 27 Council Members, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, and released at the Walmart-Free NYC event, where mock checks were ripped up on the spot for dramatic effect.
In the open letter (enclosed), Council Members declared that continued spending by Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation will undermine efforts here to “advance policies and legislation that will reduce inequality and promote better education, better jobs, and a better city for all.”
They emphasized that Walmart and the Walton family fund the privatization of New York City public education and conservative groups opposed to the City Council’s progressive agenda.
They tied the current spending here to a long history of Walmart and the Walton family funding right-wing causes nationally, including anti-worker, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBT causes.
This event, part of a national week of action pegged to Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting, is a major effort by the City Council to reignite and embolden Walmart-Free NYC. In the past, Walmart-Free NYC has successfully defeated Walmart’s attempts to open stores in the five boroughs, and the campaign today scored a new victory by making the retailer’s money toxic.
“New Yorkers need good paying jobs and sound policies that will help all people enter the middle class-not a cynical public relations campaign that disguises Walmart’s backwards anti-job agenda. Walmart does not share New York’s values, and I’m proud to stand in solidarity with my colleagues as we send a clear message to Walmart and the Walton Foundation to stay out of New York City,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
“Nationally, Walmart and the Walton family have spent billions bankrolling a right-wing inequality agenda that has harmed working people and the most vulnerable communities. They won’t get away with it here. For years, New Yorkers have rejected Walmart’s efforts to open stores in the five boroughs, and now we are rejecting Walmart’s dangerous dollars. We are standing up for everything Walmart threatens: stronger communities, better quality jobs, and vibrant local businesses,” said Audrey Sasson, Director of the Walmart-Free NYC Coalition.
“As a long-time representative of this great City, I have consistently and proudly advocated for progressive issues, such as paid sick time, immigrant rights, living wages, LGBT rights and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation have a long history of being unsupportive of what we in the City Council have worked so hard to establish. I stand united with my colleagues in local government in demanding Walmart stay out of New York City,” said City Council Member Julissa Ferreras.
“We’ve already made it clear that there’s no place for Walmart among our vibrant and diverse small businesses. It’s a shame that we now have to fight the Waltons’ sleazy, underhanded tactics, as they fund an anti-progressive agenda in a sad attempt to gain influence in New York City. Those tactics won’t get far, because we know their dangerous intent all too well, and for that reason I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and say: Get your money out of our city!,” said City Council Member Margaret Chin.
“Walmart’s anti-immigrant, anti-union, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, and anti-civil rights agenda has no place in New York City schools. We will not stand for Walmart’s attempt to politicize and privatize our schools,” said City Council Member Helen Rosenthal.