Commentary By Andy Shallal: Local Businesses Say No To Walmart | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Commentary By Andy Shallal: Local Businesses Say No To Walmart

Play associated audio

With a charm offensive and an ad budget that is greater than the Gross Domestic Product of many small countries, Walmart is carefully orchestrating the roll out of four stores it wants to build in Washington, D.C.

With unemployment above 9 percent ,and an economy in need of a boost, some boosters are too eager to welcome a kind of big box Trojan horse.

Walmart promises cheap goods, jobs and economic development in areas that have been historically neglected.

What is there not to like?

Well, in a word: plenty.

Walmart's checkered history of labor violations, tax evasion and bad procurement practices speaks much louder than its promises.

Take jobs for instance. A 2007 study shows three jobs are lost for every two jobs that Walmart creates. And we're not talking good jobs with living wages and great benefits either.

The well-documented trail of its labor practices include racial and gender discrimination and poor working conditions.

Walmart's bullying procurement practices are legendary, driving manufacturers and wholesalers to bear subsistence with shareholder profits as the sole motivation.

Opening just one Walmart store would have a profound effect on D.C. Imagine four.

Some would reason that our most vulnerable neighborhoods, where the stores are planned, are desperately underserved.

Others argue that low prices are necessary for low-income families.

Yes, we do need economic development. But Walmart's traditional poverty-level jobs are not the solution. They will continue to depress wages and labor standards and deepen the ranks of the working poor.

Community leaders and local business owners have started to organize to stop Walmart from coming to D.C. These stakeholders are not lulled by Walmart's newly-polished image.

Rather than giving in to Walmart's assault, we need a sustainable economy: innovative local businesses, better tax incentives, improved infrastructure and a more prepared work force.

Local, independent businesses give a neighborhood character. And they create more local jobs, pay more taxes and keep more money in the community.

We need more than a slick ad campaign that conceals the real costs of Walmart.

We need businesses that respect D.C. and its uniqueness, that respect citizens and embrace the many threads that make up the fabric of our city.

It is time for D.C. residents and politicians to stand up to corporate big-box bullies and say no to Walmart.

Andy Shallal, the chairman of Think Local First D.C. Business Alliance, is the owner of Bus Boys and Poets and Eatonville Restaurants.

What do you think? Join The Conversation and visit the Commentary Forum.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Sept. 2

You can see a selection of Chinese films or meditate on the meaning of the word “axis” at an art exhibition.

NPR

These 5 Crops Are Still Hand-Harvested, And It's Hard Work

Saffron, vanilla, palm oil, cacao and cottonseed oil are still picked by hand in some parts of the world. Sometimes that manual labor shows up in the price of the food; sometimes it doesn't.
NPR

The Politics Of Calling In Sick

A growing grass-roots movement aims to establish paid sick leave in the U.S., enjoying some success at the city and state level. The issue is already playing big in 2014 political races.
NPR

Why Do We Blindly Sign Terms Of Service Agreements?

Audie Cornish talks with University of Chicago Law School professor Omri Ben-Shahar about terms of service agreements for software and websites.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.