Taking the High Road: Report Shows How New York City Can Create Thousands of Good Quality Retail Jobs through Neighborhood Rezoning

With Bold Action and Leadership on High-Road Retail, Mayor de Blasio Can Ensure that His Ambitious Rezoning Plan Succeeds, Walmart-Free NYC Says Today in Major New Report

New York, NY— So far, discussion of Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning plan has focused on affordable housing, but a major new report unveiled today shows how and why city government should also prioritize the creation of thousands of good quality retail jobs in rezoned neighborhoods.

The report, Taking the High-Road: How the City of New York Can Create Thousands of Good Retail Jobs Through Neighborhood Rezoning, was developed by Walmart-Free NYC with policy experts, coalition partners and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) / Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

It’s the first of its kind to present a specific policy roadmap aimed at influencing the quality of the jobs that will be created by the numerous retail tenants expected to move into the ground-floor commercial spaces in developments planned for rezoned neighborhoods across the city.

The report is the opening salvo of a larger grassroots organizing and policy campaign to spur the creation of high-road retail jobs in neighborhoods that will be rezoned across the five boroughs.

High-road retailers treat their workforce as their most important asset. They know that a successful business model ensures that employees, owners, and communities can thrive. They offer their workers a combination of living wage jobs with benefits, stable full-time schedules, ample training and career advancement opportunities, along with the freedom to form a union.

The threat of low-road retailers like Walmart exploiting the rezoning process to enter New York City is very real, the report shows. Walmart has tried to enter the five boroughs several times in the past and its business model depends on more expansive growth in urban markets. But the de Blasio administration has powerful tools at its disposal to keep low-road retailers out, and to bring high-road retailers into rezoned areas in order to create good quality jobs for residents.

“It’s no secret that New York City is in the grips of a terrible affordability crisis. It’s getting harder and harder for working people to afford to live here. Retail is one of the fastest-growing sectors of our city’s economy, and we want to ensure that future retail jobs in rezoned neighborhoods strengthen the lives of local residents and families. Our communities deserve much better than Walmart and other low-road retailers. Mayor de Blasio has a history of opposing Walmart and fighting for good jobs. We want him to take bold action and show that his administration is fully committed to making our city a leading high-road retail city,” said Audrey Sasson, Director of Walmart-Free NYC, a large and diverse coalition of community-based groups, retail workers’ unions, workers, clergy, and policy advocates.

Walmart-Free NYC emphasized today that their campaign will respond to the fact that the character and style of high-road retail stores can vary neighborhood by neighborhood. High-road refers to the quality of the jobs, but it can include and cover all types and sizes of retail stores, broadly defined, and help preserve economic diversity and neighborhood character.

“Each neighborhood that is rezoned may create a different and unique mix of high-road retail, depending on what residents and local leaders want. As commercial tenants, larger retailers can coexist with smaller businesses that operate as local merchants and are firmly rooted in the community.  A diverse range of retail businesses can be considered high-road so long as they meet the same core criteria on wages, benefits, hours, and overall job quality,” said Sasson.

“Implementing high-road retail will require leadership and commitment from Mayor de Blasio and his economic development team. City government has enormous power and discretion to get this done and make it work. Our report highlights a number of pragmatic policy tools and mechanisms that can be used to advance high-road retail throughout the city.  In neighborhood rezoning efforts, the de Blasio administration can and should make it clear to developers that it is crucial to incorporate each community’s vision for high-road retail into new projects. Every rezoned neighborhood can strike a balance among many different options for high-road retail,” said Josh Kellermann, ALIGN, the lead author and researcher who developed the report.

“Though I support Mayor de Blasio’s effort to rezone and create a stronger housing community in East New York and Cypress Hills, I am also committed to ensuring the City does everything it can to bring more responsible employers into our neighborhoods. For local residents to continue to afford to live here, they need greater access to high quality jobs that pay living wages and provide real career paths. Affordable housing is only affordable if people earn enough to pay the rent. I’m proud to work with Walmart-Free NYC and their partners in this important campaign to create a high-road retail city that will benefit all of us,” said City Council Member Rafael Espinal, who represents District 37, which includes part of East New York, Brooklyn, the first neighborhood to be rezoned as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan.

“I want my family to continue to live in East New York, but we are struggling to get by and concerned about the future. It’s getting tougher and tougher to afford the rent, bills, and basic cost of living. My community needs more good-paying jobs with living wages, and a path to stable careers that will help us afford to stay here. I’m glad to be involved in this campaign to bring more good quality jobs and pro-union employers to our city,” said Rachel Rivera, member of New York Communities for Change.

“Development in this city must be about more than just profits for developers.  It needs to be about creating good permanent jobs.  Unionization has a proven track record of improving the quality of jobs, especially in sectors like retail, and we want to see workers living in neighborhoods that will be rezoned gain access to the best jobs. Ensuring that more high-road retailers come into rezoned neighborhoods will improve the lives of thousands of New Yorkers.  It’s good for workers, it’s good for the neighborhoods where new development occurs, and its ultimately good for the entire city,” said Dave Mertz, New York City Director of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW.

“Having a union job has made all the difference in my life. My union is the reason I get a living wage, a fair schedule, good benefits, and real respect on the job. Workers, families, and communities are stronger when more union jobs are created. That’s why I’m getting involved in this important campaign for high-road retail. We don’t want Walmart and other irresponsible employers bringing poverty-wage jobs here. At a time when New York City is getting more and more expensive for working people, the Mayor should focus on bringing more pro-union employers to our neighborhoods,” said Roxanna Forbes, an East New York resident who works at the local ShopRite and is a member of UFCW Local 1500.

“We’re in real danger of losing New York City as a place where working people can continue to live, raise families, and pursue their dreams. Too many of the new jobs being created here are low-wage and nonunion, and we want to change that. The Walmart business model of low-wages and erratic, part-time hours has harmed countless people. New Yorkers deserve much better. That’s why we’re urging Mayor de Blasio to support our high-road retail agenda and ensure that the rezoning process gives thousands of New Yorkers better economic opportunities and better jobs. This high-road retail campaign is meant to help create a stronger and fairer New York City for everyone. We are working with a number of community allies, partners, and leaders in this exciting effort,” said Ed Lynch, Special Assistant to the Director of UFCW International, Region 1.

After Wage Increase, Walmart Must Now Transform Its Business Model

The Retail Giant Should Take Bolder Action to Improve the Quality of Jobs at Its Stores, the Walmart-Free NYC Coalition Said Today

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2015

Media Contact: Dan Morris. 917.952.8920.

New York, NY – Leaders of Walmart-Free NYC, a growing coalition of workers, unions, clergy, and community organizations, today addressed the news that Walmart will raise the starting wage for 500,000 of its employees to $10 per hour.

They congratulated Walmart workers on a significant victory, but said the company must do more to transform its business model and respond to workers’ calls for $15 an hour, full-time work and respect on the job.

“We congratulate the workers and leaders of OUR Walmart on a successful effort to pressure this powerful company to raise the starting hourly wage. Make no mistake: Walmart fought calls for higher pay every step of the way. But the tireless efforts of Walmart workers and their supporters forced the retail giant to do what is right and long overdue. For years, Walmart has paid the lowest-possible wages, and only now is it raising its starting wage to a level consistent with New York’s minimum wage. While this is a significant victory for Walmart workers, they deserve much more. They deserve at least $15 an hour, reliable full-time hours, fair scheduling, concrete opportunities for career advancement, and the chance to speak out without fear of retaliation,” said Audrey Sasson, Director of Walmart-Free NYC.

“Walmart is the largest private employer in the world and one of the most profitable business in America. But it has an alarming record of illegally retaliating against workers, opposing worker organizing, and lowering job standards in the retail industry. After this wage increase, Walmart should take bolder action to change the worst aspects of its business model and to set a much better example for employers nationally. Walmart should take the high road instead of the low road. All of our communities deserve better and New York City continues to be better off without Walmart,” said Christina Hajagos-Clausen, UFCW Region 1 Director.

Walmart has not opened any stores in New York City, but Walmart’s low-wages, erratic part-time scheduling, and disrespect for workers are evident in many nonunion retail and service jobs across the five boroughs, according to a recent report, Low-Wage Rage: How Walmart and the Walton Family Harm New York City’s Workforce.

That’s because Walmart, as the nation’s largest private employer, has more power over the retail industry than any other company, and many businesses have chosen to adopt its low-road business model in order to compete. If Walmart stores ever entered New York City, the company would have an even more disastrous effect here, destroying many local jobs, depressing wages, and killing off small businesses, according to a widely-discussed report, The Walmartization of New York City.

“Walmart workers and their allies have shown that when they stand together real change is possible. But make no mistake about it; this does not mean that Walmart is a fundamentally different company. Raising hourly wages is a good first step, but for a company that has an abysmal track record on worker rights, women’s rights and the environment more needs to be done to transform this company into a responsible corporate player,” said Dave Mertz, NYC Director of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW.

“Courageous Walmart workers have shown that, by standing up for real change, they can challenge a powerful company and win. Walmart must now build on this wage increase and implement deeper changes in how it does business and treats its workers. We are committed to keeping up the fight with Walmart workers, low-wage workers, and everyday New Yorkers who believe in decent pay and fairness on the job, and want to change the worst aspects of Walmart’s business model, said Matt Ryan, Executive Director of ALIGN.

“Walmart’s announcement of a higher starting wage confirms the unmatchable power workers hold when they band together and stand for respect from their employer. Walmart workers have been relentless, fighting for decades for respect and better working conditions. However, we have heard many empty promises from Walmart, and today, there are real questions about whether the company is really committed to improving jobs or simply seeking to quiet the concerns of OUR Walmart members, investors, shoppers and taxpayers. We don’t know what this means for our hours – as more and more workers report that they are not getting the hours they want and need. The truth is that this raise, especially without any guarantee of hours, is a promise that falls short of what we need to feed our families,” said UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce W. Both.

“By standing together, Walmart workers won raises that will make a significant difference in their lives. We know this victory wouldn’t have happened without the dedication of workers across the country fighting for a better life for themselves and their families. While this wage increase is a step forward, it’s still not enough. Walmart has a deeply disturbing history of discriminating against many of its workers, including African-Americans and women, and supporting right-wing causes and campaigns. We will continue to fight to ensure that all Walmart workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that Walmart raises standards for how retailers do business,” said Kira Shepherd, Executive Director of The Black Institute.


UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards.  UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.



Low-Wage Rage Press Release

Fed up Walmart workers from around the country marched with retail workers, fast-food workers, supermarket workers, and others marched to Alice Walton’s luxury condo building in Manhattan, where they demanded better treatment and higher wages.

In Forceful Move, City Council Slams Walmart’s Dangerous Dollars

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.



Walmart Workers Visit Occupy Wall Street: “We Are the 99%”

Two Brave Walmart Associates Lead OWS Protestors in March on Walmart’s NYC HQ to Demand Promised Pay

Crowd Tells World’s Richest Retailer It Must Keep the Promises it Made in Other Cities Before It’s Welcome in NYC

New York– Walmart workers came to Liberty Park today to speak to Occupy Wall Street protesters about their campaign to win fair wages and working conditions for Walmart’s 2.1 million associates worldwide.

“We’re here today to let the people at Occupy Wall Street know that Walmart’s associates stand with them, we are the 99%” said Walmart worker Girshriela Green. “For too long Walmart has pushed its associates around and its time we got the dignity and respect we deserve.”

The workers are helping to build grassroots support for Walmart Free NYC’s campaign to hold Walmart accountable for their past statements and promises- promises the richest retailer in the world has broken time and again broken in urban expansion markets similar to New York City, according to a new report released by Making Change at Walmart.

The report, which can be found here, explains that:

  • Walmart promised an African-American community leader that workers at one Los Angeles store  would be making $13 an hour, but workers report that in reality many make less
  • Academics estimated that if consumers paid an additional .46 cents per shopping trip, it would allow Walmart to offer a minimum wage of $12 an hour
  • Walmart associates often delay or forgo medical care altogether because they can’t get the time off or can’t afford the treatment
  • 65% of all Walmart associates in 2001 were women, yet they made up only 33% of salaried management

“Walmart’s glitzy and expensive PR campaign won’t tell New York that they promised Los Angeles jobs and then never delivered, or that they promised higher wages than fell way short. We need to hold Walmart accountable, and that is what we are doing today,” said Stephanie Yazgi, Director of Walmart Free NYC. “We need Walmart to be held accountable for their past promises and need them to finally treat their workers with respect.”

After speaking to the people gathered at Zuccotti Park, the workers and Occupy Wall Street protestors marched on Walmart’s New York City Headquarters to demand the company keep its promises to workers in other cities before it’s allowed in to New York City.

In addition, the Walmart workers also met with key stakeholders in New York City to discuss Walmart’s many labor related issues and why the retail giant needs to be reformed. The workers are from a worker organized organization called OUR Walmart: Organization United for Respect at Walmart that stands up for their rights.

The workers

Girshriela Green: Girshriela Green is flying across the country tomorrow to tell New Yorkers about her experience working for the world’s richest retailer in Los Angeles- where her working-class community was courted by Walmart’s promises of hundreds of good jobs, much like East New Yorkers are now—but those promises failed to materialize. Girshriela was hired as a sales floor associate making $8.20 / hour. After three promotions, she makes $9.80 an hour, far less than the $13 an hour Walmart executives promised an African-American community leader in LA, and now, in New York.

Kenny James:  Kenny James is a former Walmart Support Manager from Renton, Washington. Kenny was on the management track, but chose to step down when he was told that in order to move up into higher management, he had to treat associates more poorly. Kenny has for several years tried to make Walmart a better place to work by educating associates, addressing unfair policies and challenging Walmart to do right by its associates. Kenny is a leader in Organization United for Respect at Walmart and is hopeful for the future of equality, respect and fairness at Walmart.



Why Is Walmart’s NYC Campaign Silent As Parent Company Defends LGBTQ Discrimination?

New York -The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, a top LGBTQ organization, slammed Walmart today following an explosive New York Times article that revealed the retailer’s e-commerce operation, through the company’s relationship with a marketing affiliate, has been helping to bankroll groups that actively oppose LGBTQ rights. (See New York times, “Retailers Are Put On Spot Over Anti-Gay Aid”, September 25, 2011)

“We are alarmed and offended by the news that Walmart is funneling money to well-known anti-gay groups and disrespecting so many LGBTQ Americans,” said Joseph Hagelmann III, President of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, the largest and oldest LGBTQ political club in the city.

“Walmart is spending millions to win over New York City residents, but its officials have never reached out to us and have never marched with us,” Hagelmann continued. “Now we know why. Walmart’s actions and record on LGBTQ issues are simply indefensible. Walmart is a threat to New York City, the historic home of the LGBTQ movement, and we continue to oppose Walmart opening stores here.”

Walmart has long failed to support the LGBTQ community. Among the most disturbing facts:

Walmart Has Flunked National Tests of How Well It Treats LGBTQ Employees

Walmart Recently Allowed a Supervisor to Humiliate and Shame a Gay Employee

Walmart Does Not Adequately Protect Its Transgender Employees

Walmart Has Sold Anti-Gay Children’s Books in Many of Its Stores

Walmart’s Poor LGBTQ Record Stands Out Among Fortune 500 Companies

Walmart’s Current CEO Has Opposed Gay and Lesbian Adoption

“Walmart’s awful LGBTQ history is a problem that money and corporate spin can’t solve,” said Stephanie Yazgi, Director of the Walmart Free NYC campaign. “Walmart NYC’s campaign needs to tell their corporate offices back in Bentonville to sever all ties with groups that want to roll back decades of gains in LGBTQ rights. Walmart clearly does not share New York’s values. If the company did, it would not be helping to fund groups that want to trample on the rights and dignity of New York’s LGBTQ community.”

These reactions come as Walmart is reportedly desperate for growth in New York City and possibly looking to build more than 150 stores across the five boroughs, according to a major new study.


New Study: Walmart Could Open an Estimated 159 Stores in NYC

159 Walmart Stores in NYC Could Lead to 3,980 Jobs Lost, $353 Million in Lost Wages; and a $4 Million Bill for Taxpayers

Walmart Looking at NYC to Offset Declining U.S. Stock Price, Stagnating Growth

New York, NY –“The Walmartization of New York City,” a new study released today by ALIGN, a New York-based nonprofit organization, reveals that Walmart’s growth plans for New York City could lead the company to open an estimated 159 stores here, most of them smaller format stores designed for urban areas, a finding consistent with Walmart’s oft-repeated declaration that it is evaluating opportunities for new stores across the five boroughs.

It is the first study of its kind analyzing retail market share data, industry analyst reports, and Walmart’s own financial reports in order to show the large-scale roll out the company is likely planning in New York City and to explain the likely economic impact.

It looks closely at Walmart’s market share in the grocery industry across the U.S. and rigorously calculates the minimum number of stores Walmart would likely need to build in New York City in order to reach a corresponding level of market share here.

The study estimates that the economic impact of this Walmartization on NYC could be devastating:

A net loss of 3,980 jobs throughout New York City

The loss of $353 million in wages for retail workers whose jobs remain

Taxpayers footing a $4 million bill for health care benefits for 4,279 new Walmart workers

“Walmart is desperate for growth in New York City, because the company has saturated most non-urban U.S. markets and its U.S. stock has been stagnating,” said Josh Kellerman, an ALIGN researcher who co-authored the study with Stephanie Luce, an economics professor from CUNY. “But a few NYC stores will do little to address its weak economic outlook. So the company is looking to open many stores throughout NYC and control a significant portion of the largest consumer market in the U.S.,” he said.

As part of its campaign to enter New York City, Walmart spent over $2.1 million in lobbying expenses in the first half of 2011, six times as much as it spent in the last four years combined, the study shows. Meanwhile, over the last twelve months, Walmart’s stock has significantly underperformed competitors such as Costco and Kroger, primarily because its same store U.S. sales (a key economic indicator in the retail industry) have declined for nine consecutive quarters.

“This study makes it clear that what’s good for Walmart is not good for New York City,” said New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “Millions of dollars worth of advertising can’t sweep Walmart’s record of killing jobs and small businesses under the rug. We have to protect our city’s middle class from companies that actively undermine it.

According to the study, Walmart has saturated non-urban U.S. markets to such a degree that it is beginning to cannibalize sales at its own stores. So it is now focusing on growth in urban markets it had once ignored. Walmart’s CFO, Michael Fung, recently pointed out that “Wal-Mart has twice the opportunity to grow in Los Angeles or New York than the opportunity in India and China combined.”

Eduardo Castro Wright, Walmart’s Vice Chairman, stated in 2009 that Walmart stood to increase its sales between $80 and $100 billion through expansion into urban markets.  New York City, as the largest consumer market in the U.S., likely represents the largest portion of this growth strategy.

Walmart’s share of the US grocery market is 21%.  Reaching that same level of market share in New York City’s dense retail environment would likely require 159 Walmart stores of varying sizes. The study estimates it would be 114 of the new Walmart Express stores averaging 15,000 square feet, 34 Walmart Markets averaging 35,000 square feet, and 11 Supercenters averaging 100,000 square feet. (See the study’s detailed methodology section for more information on how the calculations and estimates were developed.)

“Walmart has made lots of promises about creating jobs and investing in communities, but the company’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality,” said Reverend David Dyson of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. Given its power and influence, Walmart has an obligation to answer questions about its long-term impact on New York City. Walmart is hiding behind talking points, but New Yorkers see through the spin and want answers.”


ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York’s mission is to create good jobs, vibrant communities, and an accountable democracy for all New Yorkers. Our work unites worker, community, and other allies to build a more just and sustainable New York. For more information, please visit www.alignny.org



Small Businesses, Community Leaders, Clergy Tell Related In Person To Say “No” To Walmart

Coalition Also Kicks Off Virtual Campaign Urging New Yorkers to Email Related’s Stephen Ross To Keep East New York Walmart-Free

NEW YORK– Small businesses, community leaders, clergy and other members of Walmart Free NYC paid a visit to the developer Related’s Headquarters at the Time Warner Center today urging them to say “No” to Walmart.  The coalition sought a meeting with CEO Stephen Ross about Related’s reported negotiations with Walmart, but Related continued its refusal to meet. The coalition released a letter asking Related to cease any negotiations with Walmart and to meet with East New York residents to discuss potential retail sights.

The coalition also released a video of East New York residents asking Stephen Ross not to be “Related to Walmart” and urging viewers to email Stephen Ross asking him to keep East New York Walmart-Free (http://bit.ly/eastnewyorkersagainstwalmart).  At the same time, dozens of Walmart-Free NYC used Twitter to organize emails as well.

“Related needs to understand that Walmart is not what we need in Brooklyn or anywhere else in the five boroughs,” said Wanda Salaman from Mothers on the Move in the Bronx. “Our livelihoods should not be negotiated with behind closed doors, we have the right to know what Related and Walmart are doing.”

“Stephen Ross needs to hear us loud and clear: East New York does not want Walmart,” said said Maria Maisonet of East New York. “Related needs to finally come clean about Walmart and tell us face-to-face what they are doing- we deserve answers.

The delegation from all over New York City included representatives from Willets Point, Hunters Point South and other sites across the city for which Related may potentially submit plans.

Walmart Free NYC also released its letter to Stephen Ross. The letter stated: “We are deeply concerned that you are abdicating your responsibility by reportedly helping Walmart enter New York City via the Gateway II development site and other sites where you may be planning to lease space to the retailer.”

Also in the letter Walmart Free NYC asked Related to:

  • Pledge to cease any negotiations with Walmart over sites in New York City, and disclose a list of all the sites where you have been negotiating possible lease arrangements with Walmart.
  • Meet with East New York residents in a public forum to share your plans for potential retailers at Gateway II and engage in a dialogue with the community about the future of Gateway II.
  • Schedule a series of public meetings to hear from New Yorkers across the city who are concerned about Walmart.  This set of meetings will include residents in the neighborhoods surrounding your current developments at Hunters Point South, Westside Yards, and Bronx Gateway; your proposed developments at Willets Point and Moynihan Station; and other potential developments.

Last week, Assemblywoman Inez Barron and UFCW Regional Director and Vice President Rich Whalen urged Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to conduct an independent audit of the proposed transfer of land and negotiated sale price of Gateway II Estates after details emerged that Related Companies purchased the land for less than one-half the originally agreed upon amount. Walmart is widely reported to be eying a store at the East New York, Brooklyn development.

According to the letter to the Comptroller released last week:

  • Related agreed to pay $32.5 million in March 2009, after the financial collapse, for 21 acres of land in East New York, Brooklyn for its Gateway Center development project.
  • In April, 2009, only one month after Related agreed to the $32.5 million price, the land was rezoned to allow for a new 630,000 SF retail mall in addition to the mall that had already been built in 2001. This rezoning decreased the amount of land available for affordable housing, while increasing the overall value of the land for Related because land that can be used for commercial development is presumably more valuable than land to be used for residential development.
  • In 2010, at the request of Related, the deal was modified to reduce the per acre cost by 35%.



Call For End To Walmart’s Attack Against Access to Justice for Women

New York— New York groups held a press conference today spoke out against the Supreme Court’s Dukes v. Walmart decision. This decision makes it harder for women employees who have been denied promotions or paid less than their male colleagues to seek justice and hold the corporate retailer accountable for its alleged actions. The class action would have made it easier for individuals with limited means to gain access to justice in the courtroom.

Attendees noted:

  • The Supreme Court didn’t rule on the merits of the law suit so associates still have legal avenue to pursue their claims
  • Walmart needs to enact fair policies to ensure families and workers are protected

In light of the Supreme Court ruling, these organizations believe it is critical that Congress acts now to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure women have additional protections in the workplace and that Walmart create improved policies that ensure full access to equal pay and promotional opportunities and training for associates to transition into management so women will never be systematically discriminated against solely based on their gender.

Several groups expressed outrage at the decision:

“No company should ever be able to treat women as second-class citizens in the workplace and get away with it.  Yet, today the United States Supreme Court has favored the rights of Wal-Mart over the rights of the 1.5 million women who spent decades getting paid less while doing the same work as men.  Wal-Mart’s history of systemic discrimination against women and record of shutting down small local businesses demonstrate that it does not belong in our City, period,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

“The Supreme Court today did not decide the merits of this case, that fight continues,” said Sonia Ossorio, executive director of the National Organization for Women in New York City. “We applaud the brave women who are demanding equal pay and equal access to promotions at Wal-Mart. They have shined a light on how Wal-Mart is cheating a million woman and American families.

“The Supreme Court’s decision underscores the need to strengthen federal, state and local employment discrimination laws to ensure  justice and fair pay for working women,”said Dina Bakst, Co-President of  A Better Balance.

“Once again this Supreme Court has put a significant new roadblock in place for workers to fight widespread wage discrimination. The Wal-Mart decision highlights just how much we need stronger laws to protect all American workers. We call on our federal, state and NYC elected officials act now: fight for and pass fair pay legislation,” said Beverly Neufeld , President New York Women’s Agenda, and Director Equal Pay Coalition NYC

“The Women’s City Club of New York is disappointed with the Court’s refusal to allow female workers to move ahead with their claims. The class action lawsuit is an important way for individuals to seek justice, and as one of the founding organizations of the Equal Pay Coalition we are concerned by the precedent this case could set in preventing future class action lawsuits.  The Court’s decision has dealt a broad blow to women and other victims of workplace discrimination, making it now more imperative than ever that we work together to end such discrimination,” said  President Ruth Acker.

“People in our society do not have the resources to battle large corporations individually. Prior to today’s Supreme Court decision, a result of of Walmarts legal maneuvering and avoidance of  accountability, individuals could collectively join forces and seek justice. Minorities, women’s groups, workers, consumers and countless other groups with a mutual complaint now face tremendous obstacles in seeking justice thanks to Walmarts actions. Once again, Walmart put profits before people and now New Yorkers, specifically those New Yorkers most vulnerable, are worse off for it,” said Rhonda Nelson, UFCW Women’s Network.


Walmart Continues To Try and Buy New York’s Love

Rather Than Coming Before The City Council or Community Board, Walmart Resorts To The Only Strategy It Knows, Spend $$$$

NEW YORK – As Walmart continues to avoid answering hard questions to New Yorkers, the company has been spending significant amounts of money in political contributions and political-style advertising to try to buy New Yorkers’ love. Today, the company announced a charitable contribution in another attempt to buy their way into New York City.

An analysis of Walmart’s New York State lobbying data from the New York State Commission on Public Integrity shows it spent $1.85 million on lobbying (including political-style advertisements) in the first four months of 2011. In 2007 through 2010, the company spent $335,385.

A similar shift has occurred in political contributions. An analysis of data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, shows that between 2003 and 2010, Wal-Mart contributed $562,877 to statewide candidates in New York. Overall contributions have grown dramatically each election cycle in advance of the company’s efforts to expand into New York City, beginning with a mere $4,020 in 2004 and reaching $273,000 by 2010.

The mega-retailer can’t boost its flagging U.S. sales unless it expands into the nation’s largest cities, so it’s trying to break its way into New York with new store formats and new products, and most importantly– a new image.

“Walmart can’t be trusted. The company is embracing progressive values in its public relations campaign to avoid tough questions about its history of alleged discrimination and putting local mom and pops out business.,” said Stephanie Yazgi, spokesperson for Walmart Free NYC. “Walmart’s convenient contribution won’t distract New Yorkers from its track record: the company is facing the largest gender bias class-action lawsuit in U.S. history, it has sold more guns than any company in the United States, and it failed The Human Right Campaign’s national LGBT scorecard.”

Walmart Lobbyist Spending[i]

Lobbyist 2007 2008 2009 2010 2007-10 2011
Law Offices of Claudia Wagner LLC $32,000 $22,500 $54,500
Patricia Lynch Associates $65,000 $65,000 $62,834 $61,752 $254,586
Manatt, Phelps and Phillips LLP $22,500 $22,500 $30,000
Philip Serghini $620 $203 $2,976 $3,799
Walmart Stores $1,756,853
The Wright Group $24,000
Hodes and Landy $30,000
York Group Associates $16,000
Total $97,620 $65,203 $65,810 $84,252 $335,385 $1,856,853


[i] http://www.nyintegrity.org/