Wal-Mart and the Battle for the Soul of NYC
(Amsterdam News) — While discussion of Wal-Mart in the mainstream New York media has died down, it doesn’t mean that the fight is over. Last week’s City Council hearing at the old Emigrant Savings Bank building in Lower Manhattan highlighted much of what’s wrong, in some people’s eyes, with Wal-Mart’s approach to entering the five boroughs and the absurdity of public hearings. Loud declarations for and against Wal-Mart were expected, but aside from a member of the media jumping up and screaming about not being able to ask questions, the hearing was par for the course. That didn’t mean, however, that noteworthy points weren’t made. Wal-Mart had up-to-the-minute counter information ready to combat any facts that council members, guest speakers and studies provided. In a series of e-mails to the AmNews, Wal-Mart attempted to discount anything deemed negative about the organization. “Wal-Mart is one of the fastest growing employers in the world and one of the most diverse,” read one e-mail. “More than 850,000 of its associates are female and make up 59 percent of its U.S. workforce. Thirty-five percent of associates are minorities, including: 249,000 African-Americans, 171,000 Hispanics and 42,000 Asian Americans, and 430,000 associates are age 50 or older. In addition, Wal-Mart’s Supplier Diversity Program has grown from an initial $2 million in 1994 to nearly $9.2 billion in 2009.” Councilman Al Vann was one of the first to launch an offensive, indirectly, against Wal-Mart at the hearing. While explaining the purpose of the meeting in its first minutes, Vann called out Wal-Mart for alleged practices against its employees.