Starting as a chain of discount stores through out America in 1962, Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart has become the mega-god of all discount stores ever witnessed in America. While supporters find the chain to be a haven for low-income households due to the affordability of their low priced deals, opponents find the chain giant to be a continued nuisance on the United States by depressing domestic wages and exporting manufacturing jobs to foreign countries.
For supporters Wal-Mart is a necessary presence within the country. Wal-Mart supporters back the stores due to all the good the chain stores does for American citizens by creating jobs within its stores and catering to the growth of the surrounding community. However, opponents disagree finding the store does more harm than good for the country and the unfortunate community they settle down within. Recently, Wal-Mart has been trying its excessive campaign to open stores within New York City and has received backing by some New Yorkers and Unions within the city to make it happen. However, there are those who wish to see the discount store entity with the Big Apple.
Representing Wal-Mart as a needed source to improve the city of New York, director of community affairs for Wal-Mart, Steve Restivo promises that a Wal-Mart within New York City would be a much needed cure for the city’s most, “underserved areas in terms of jobs and access to affordable food,” and although he has not listed the areas that would benefit from Wal-Mart’s presence he did mention Wal-Mart will help encourage the growth of low-income areas.
If Wal-Mart is to open in one of the five boroughs, Restivo discusses a agreement Wal-Mart and construction unions have agreed on entitled, The Five-Year Principal Agreement, which will guarantee, “that union workers will construct or renovate any stores that the retailer opens, including both owned and leased property.” Restivo also acknowledges that the company in partnership with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York will start, “apprenticeship and work-force development programs,” in order to ensure that these areas in New York will in fact grow into a stabilize community. And these proposed promises may be coming true, since Wal-Mart has eyes for setting ground in Brooklyn. However, if opponents against Wal-Mart are successful it will never happen.
Known for its questionable labor practices where there have been claims made by former-employees who stated that they were forced to work unpaid overtime and claims of professional managers being discriminatory to both minorities and women, Wal-Mart has a long history of negative representation within the media and as a result may have cause some of its negative response by New Yorkers. Fearing that Wal-Mart would end their businesses, small business owners have religious claimed that the retailer would put them out of business due to the impossibility of keeping up with the store in competitive prices.
Joining business owners, New York City Politicians have also protested against the chain’s appearance with the city. Council speaker Christine Quinn has said that no matter what Wal-Mart claims to offer, “they are not a company that is good for New York City,” and has cited to claims that Wal-Mart refuses to accept food stamps, are discriminatory towards women, and will in the end hurt a majority of NYC small businesses. Advocate Bill de Blasio also holds the same vision of the future when he agrees with Quinn that the, “history of the last decade tells us that Wal-Mart stands to be our city’s Trojan horse. Wal-Mart’s record of driving small businesses out of town and paying below-poverty-line wages to its employees will only exacerbate the current decline of New York City’s middle class,” discrediting any claims that Wal-Mart would benefit a community. And so far, the community in question is Brooklyn which holds a shopping center that Wal-Mart would like to set shop in.
Opponents against Wal-Mart opening up in Brooklyn claim that if the discount retailer did open in the area, East New York would become flooded with shoppers which allegedly not a good thing. The proposed site, the Gateway II shopping center, would draw an estimated 10,692 cars every weekday which is far more than the mall’s developers predicted and would mean a 32% jump in traffic, according to a study by traffic engineer, Brian Ketcham. The study was paid for by an organization against Wal-Mart moving into NYC called, Wal-Mart Free NYC backs Quinn’s claim. Spokeswoman of Wal-Mart Free NYC, Stephanie Yazgi states that, “A Wal-Mart here would kill jobs and small businesses, and drastically increase traffic.”
In a city where large retail stores like Target, Home Depot, Sears, Payless, and the list goes on already exists, why is Wal-Mart singled out? Mainly, it isn’t truly the store itself that is up for debate but the policies and the inter-handling of the discount giant that makes Wal-Mart an unsavory sight within NYC. Despite opponents preaching how New Yorkers don’t want a Wal-Mart in their city and claims from Wal-Mart itself that some New Yorkers do, in the end the decision should be left to who: New Yorkers. We are known for being loud-talkers, so let those who want it and does who do talk. And if talking to every New Yorker doesn’t seem probable, then how but a special election on the issue, isn’t that what democracy is all about?
Like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said about the issue of Wal-Mart, “You should let the marketplace decide. Anybody who has tried to manage the marketplace, it has not turned out very well. I think the Soviet Union is as good an example as you’d ever need of that.”