Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that Walmart stores don’t belong in New York City, a sharp contrast to his predecessor Michael Bloomberg’s position that the retailer creates jobs and would keep city shoppers from traveling to Walmarts in the suburbs.
“I don’t think it is a state secret that I am very uncomfortable with Walmart,” said de Blasio, who as a councilman and the city’s public advocate railed against the giant retail chain. “I have been adamant that I don’t think Walmart — the company, the stores — belong in New York City, and I continue to feel that.”
De Blasio was answering a question about a protest earlier in the week by labor unions and more than half the 51-member City Council over the company’s charity arm donating millions of dollars to local groups for items such as blankets for the homeless and food for the hungry.
De Blasio, who has previously denounced the company as a killer of good jobs that ultimately cost the government money to subsidize a low-paid workforce, took no position on whether the charities should accept the philanthropy.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer has been trying for years, without success largely because of council opposition, to gain a foothold in New York City. The company did not return a message seeking comment.
In 2010, Bloomberg said the company provides many entry-level jobs and he defended the retailer’s right to open in the five boroughs. “If you would do surveys in, for example, southeast Queens, people are going to Nassau County to shop at Walmart,” the former mayor said then. “If you do surveys in lower Manhattan, they’re driving over to New Jersey.”
Also Thursday, de Blasio made a pitch to Barack Obama to put his presidential library and museum at Columbia University, where he received his undergraduate degree, after he leaves office.
“I’ve certainly let the Obama team know that we are excited about the idea, that we would do anything that we can to be helpful to it,” de Blasio said.
Other contenders include Chicago, where the president spent much of his adult life, and Hawaii, where he grew up. Obama has expressed interest in relocating to New York after his presidency.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.