Appelbaum: Walmart abuses workers

Stuart Appelbaum

Yo, Walmart: Fuhgeddaboudit!

New York City does not want you here, and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and other labor unions will aggressively fight any attempt by Walmart executives to circumvent our democracy and dodge the will of the people.

Walmart’s recently publicized plans to set up shop in a Related Companies’ as-of-right site in the Gateway Center that will allow them to bypass the community and its representatives in the Council is a slap in the face. The public’s voice is critical to this particular debate.

There is no question that Walmart has earned its reputation as the quintessential villain of retail. Today’s headlines report yet again that Walmart is facing a landmark class-action lawsuit for discriminating against women. The lawsuit filed, by more than one million former Walmart employees, alleges that Walmart pays women less than men for the same jobs and that women receive fewer promotions than male counterparts.

Aside from the retailer’s despicable acts of discrimination, there are also long chapters and proven history in every community in which it operates that the union-busting, neighborhood-crushing Walmart forces out good jobs and reliable retailers while bringing down wages and benefits.

Walmart may create jobs on the front end, but the company erodes them later, just as Walmart has fully eroded our American manufacturing base by becoming the single largest customer in China and other overseas countries.

The real question is: Does a company that pays poverty wages, exploits its employees and fights their attempts to organize a union, provides few benefits, drives small businesses into bankruptcy, discriminates against women, abuses immigrants and child-labor laws, and demands enormous public services and subsidies from local governments good for New York?

Fuhgeddaboudit! Always low wages is bad for New Yorkers and our struggling retail economy. New Yorkers and Brooklynites want and deserve something better than that.

Stuart Appelbaum is president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

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