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Activists resist Wal-Mart in NYC, Wal-Mart remains perplexed

Stephon Johnson | 4/12/2011, 5:24 p.m.

Also, Wal-Mart's sales data tracked New Yorkers and said that within the past 12 months, over $165 million was spent by city dwellers in stores outside of the five boroughs. Much of that money came from Manhattan ($35 million) and Queens ($80.2 million) residents.

Pollster Doug Schoen said, "Wal-Mart enjoys deep and widespread support throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Through our research, we found that New Yorkers clearly believe Wal-Mart can provide economic relief through affordable products, as well as needed jobs." Later on Tuesday afternoon, the same day that Barron had his rally, there was a pro-Wal-Mart news conference at City Hall that included Dr. Divine Pryor of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions.

"Jobs equal public safety," said Pryor at City Hall. "Jobs equal public health. Jobs equal economic stimulus. Jobs equal opportunities for individuals to be integrated back into their community."

But Bertha Lewis, president of the Black Institute, feels that Bloomberg should look at another big box store as a model of how to do corporatism right.

"Costco actually pays decent wages and benefits," said Lewis, who's also the former head of ACORN in New York. "Wal-Mart is not the end all be all. They're not the great savior. What Bloomberg should be doing is looking at businesses that actually pay their workers good wages and pay their workers with benefits."

Charles Barron mentioned recent lawsuits against Wal-Mart accusing the chain of gender discrimination as further proof that they were "not a friendly, corporate interest coming to our communities that give living wages, health care benefits, decent pensions and decent conditions for people to work in. That's not Wal-Mart." But Barron wasn't done.

"Don't let Wal-Mart manipulate you and have unions looking for jobs for union members," he said. "Because some unions--some--don't care what's built as long as they get the gigs. Don't allow Wal-Mart to manipulate you against the people because you want to get some jobs for your union members."

"Don't go for low prices and jobs. That's how they manipulate you," continued Barron. "You think you're gonna get a bargain on cheap goods? The wages are worse...and you're gonna destroy the economy."