Retail

Low-Wage Workers Protest Walmart

October 17, 2014
By Marc Bussanich

New York, NY—On Thursday labor advocates released a new report describing how Walmart’s business model is hurting both the national and New York City’s economy. After announcing the report at City Hall, low-wage workers staged a protest outside Ann Walton’s new $25 million condo.

In the accompanying video, we interviewed Dave Mertz, assistant to the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to ask how Walmart’s business model hurts New York.

“Part of it is that business model that has found its way into New York City. A lot of retailers find they have to compete on that lower level that Walmart is pushing—squeezing workers, forcing a lot more workers onto part-time, keeping wages low. That business model creeps in every community and every operator regardless of whether or not there is a physical Walmart in the location,” said Mertz.

If Walmart did come to New York, we asked how that would impact grocery store and retail workers?

“First off, Walmart’s not coming to New York, and we’re going to make sure of that. And we’re doing that because it’s in the best interest, not just of workers, but also of everybody in this city. We want a high-road economy, not a low-road economy,” Mertz said.

Walmart boats of low prices that’s good for everybody, but Mertz noted that there’s a hidden cost in those savings.

“You got workers turning to public assistance because they’re not being paid enough. That means you’re taxes are going to be higher. You’ve got jobs being lost because Walmart is putting competitors out of business. It’s bad for everyone and those low prices come at a huge cost.”

After the City Hall presser, Mertz went to join advocates to protest outside Ann Walton’s home, a company heir, where 14 Walmart employees and 12 others were arrested and charged with civil disobedience.

Capital New York reported on Thursday Walmart’s reaction to the report, who dismissed it as “silly.” Spokeswoman Kory Lundberg said that workers would have career advancement if Walmart were in New York.

“Hallelujah, Walmart is the answer,” Mertz said. “It begs some credibility here about the kinds of jobs Walmart provides. Just a cursory glance shows they are dead-end, low-wage jobs and part-time jobs with erratic scheduling. It’s just not the kind of company that should be touting its business practices if they’re going to be taken seriously.”

@marbuss marc@laborpress.org

October 17, 2014

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