NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880/AP) – There were dueling rallies on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday, with one group voicing opposition to the opening of a Walmart store in New York City and the other in favor.
Led by Council Member Charles Barron and chanting “Walmart must go,” opponents charged that the retailer exploited workers and said its addition would strangle the local economy, 1010 WINS’ Senior Correspondent Stan Brooks reported.
“Any retail can give us jobs and lower prices. And we’re not getting lower prices so that you can bring in a plantation and give us slave wages,” Barron said at the morning news conference.
A couple of hours later, Dr. Divine Pryor, of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions, led a rally in favor of bringing a Walmart store to the area.
“Jobs equal public safety. Jobs equal public health. Jobs equal economic stimulus. Jobs equal opportunities for individuals to be integrated back into their community,” Pryor said.
Walmart is again trying to open stores in New York City after failing twice because of community opposition, tweaking its message and its strategy.
Steven Restivo, a spokesman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart Stores Inc., told The New York Times in its online edition Sunday that the retailer is looking at sites throughout the city.
“There is a business case to be made for our growth in large cities across the country,” Restivo said. “We know we have customers there, and we know we want to make access to our brand more convenient.”
Still others were not convinced, including one woman at the morning rally who said “we need good paying jobs, not minimum wage jobs.”
“We need employers that treat their workers fairly, not stores that discriminate against women and minorities,” she said.
But Rev. Leonard Hatter said Walmart would be able to help some city residents to come out of economic hard times.
“Provide us with jobs, Hatter said, “once you provide us with jobs, you provide us with a place to live.”