LOS ANGELES — Standing in front of the proposed Wal-Mart site in Chinatown, over 100 residents and community leaders called on Angelenos to stop the Walmart-ization of Los Angeles by marching in what will be the largest anti-Wal-Mart protest in the U.S. on June 30.
Brave New Films/Cuentame produced a video “Stop the Invasion! No Walmart-ization!” to promote the protest. Thousands will unite to stop Wal-Mart from aggressively expanding across Los Angeles with chain stores that create poverty and low-wage jobs.
“Whether it’s alleged bribes in Mexico or millions of dollars in political contributions to grease the wheels of politics in California, Wal-Mart won’t stop until they put a store in every neighborhood. It’s Chinatown today and your neighborhood tomorrow,” said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
Wal-Mart’s expansion plans in Los Angeles call into question its fast growth in Mexico tainted by alleged bribery and corruption. This demonstration comes on the heels of Los Angeles labor calling on all Los Angeles County elected officials to give back Wal-Mart money and reject future contributions.
“We, as elected officials, need to make it crystal clear that we will not stand for this attack on our workers and our neighborhoods. And what better way to do that than for us, as elected officials, to turn down Wal-Mart’s money?” said U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu, District CA-32. “As an elected official in the U.S. Congress, I have not taken Wal-Mart contributions and I pledge I will not take Wal-Mart money. I join the call on all Los Angeles elected officials not to take Wal-Mart’s money and to give it back if they have accepted contributions in the past.”
The coalition to stop Wal-Mart in Los Angeles opposes Wal-Mart’s poverty wages, lack of affordable health care, and hazardous working conditions as well as its discriminatory labor practices.
“I’ve been employed by Wal-Mart for three years, manage a department and still earn less than $10 an hour. No one can support a family on that. The people of Los Angeles can’t afford more Wal-Mart jobs,” said Grishriela Green, Wal-Mart associate at the Crenshaw Wal-Mart.
“We are joining with the community June 30 to bring awareness to the negative effects Wal-Mart has on all workers in Southern California. In the warehouses we worked long days, often 16 hours with no breaks, no time for lunch and no overtime pay moving Wal-Mart goods,” said David Acosta, describing his experience working inside Southern California warehouses.
“As an immigrant and working class community, Chinatown has a history of being run over by big developers. We represent Chinatown residents, seniors, youth and small businesses. We don’t want Wal-Mart bulldozing through our community,” said Lucia Lin, with the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development. “We want to thank all of our allies for supporting us in our struggle against Wal-Mart and we’re looking forward to marching with everyone on June 30.”
“I’ve been a resident of Chinatown all my life. Chinatown is more than it appears to tourists and corporate America. It is not a place for others to exploit the residing Asian and Hispanic cultures or make money off mom-and-pop stores and the working class,” said Tanira Chau, 18 year-old resident of Chinatown.
“Wal-Mart’s business strategy cannibalizes small businesses. It minimizes self-sufficiency and economic sustainability in our communities,” said Reverend Eric Lee, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
“Wal-Mart’s shameful track record of sexual harassment and discrimination against women, failure to provide adequate health insurance and exploitation of part-time workers is an affront to our common values,” said Katherine Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Until Wal-Mart proves that it can operate as a responsible employer, we will vigorously oppose its expansion in Los Angeles and other parts of the country.”
Speakers at the press conference included: Congresswoman Judy Chu, U.S. Congress District CA-32, Maria Elena Durazo, leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Reverend Eric Lee, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Ari Gutierrez, co-chair of the Latino Equality Alliance, Grishriela Green, Wal-Mart associate, and Tanira Chau and Lucia Lin of the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development.
Making Change at Walmart estimates that for Wal-Mart to reach its national market share in L.A. County, Wal-Mart would need to build 212 stores. By format, the number of stores is: 42 Supercenters, 64 Markets, and 106 Express stores.
Using that same methodology Making Change at Walmart estimates the impact on L.A. County of 212 stores includes: A net loss of 8,744 retail jobs; The loss of more than $621 million in wages per year for the retailer workers who still have jobs in L.A. County; and an increase of 9,400 workers who must rely on Medi-Cal for health care