Last Friday, NY Jobs with Justice / Urban Agenda, along with New York Communities for Change, the Retail Action Project, and other members of the Walmart-Free NYC Coalition staged a flash mob in Time Warner Center, headquarters of the Related Companies, the real estate developer currently in talks to lease Walmart space to build its first store in New York City.
Nearly a hundred singing and dancing New Yorkers converged on Related's lobby with brass band backing to let the mega-developer know we don't want it opening the floodgates for Walmart to take over our city:
Our action might have been fun, but the consequences of Related's actions are quite serious. The Gateway II site in East New York that Walmart is eying was subject to a years-long community planning process, originally intended to foster small business and create quality jobs.
Related could stick to the original plans and go forward with a local retailer like Shop-Rite with a track record of responsible business practices. Instead, their move to introduce a Walmart into the plan without seeking community consent has disrupted the entire community planning process and raised a flurry of opposition from concerned residents, community organizations and local elected officials.
But the trouble isn't limited to this one site in Brooklyn. Walmart is believed to have plans to open at least a hundred stores throughout the five boroughs, threatening to kill quality jobs, shut down small businesses, and lower labor standards throughout the city. New Yorkers deserve better, and that's why we showed up at Related's headquarters to let them know we want them to do right by our city.
That's also why hundreds of New Yorkers have already sent an email to Related's CEO to let him know we want his company to build quality developments that serve our communities, not sell us out to one of the world's worst employers.
And that's why hundreds of local residents will be out in force over the coming months to demonstrate their opposition to Walmart invading their neighborhood, including the Community Board 5 hearing on April 27th at which leaders will take up Related's plans for the development of Gateway II.
In the words of the people of New York City: "Related wants to build a Walmart; we say no, no, no!"