View Poll Results: Do you like the idea of NYC having a Wal-Mart?

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Thread: City's First Walmart To Be Built In Queens

  1. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stern
    I have been on a part of QNS BLVD, it was near the Queensboro bridge. We got out and walked around a bit too. Didnt seem too bad.
    Dynamicdezzy means bad as in traffic not as in the character of the neighborhood. Many people die from carelessness and J-walking, which carries a heavy fine.
    Yes I understood, I mean it didnt seem bad, as in traffic or anything else. I didnt think it seemed bad to walk on etc. I hadnt even thought about the neighborhood.

  2. #17
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    Just for the record. FRONTLINE ran an excellent documentary about Wall-Mart just a few weeks ago: "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?". The film can be viewed online, as well as background info. and interviews.

    An introduction to the program:
    FRONTLINE offers two starkly contrasting images: one in Circleville, Ohio, where the local TV manufacturing plant has closed down; the other--a sea of high rises in the South China boomtown of Shenzhen. The connection between American job losses and soaring Chinese exports? Wal-Mart. For Wal-Mart, China has become the cheapest, most reliable production platform in the world, the source of up to $25 billion in annual imports that help the company deliver everyday low prices to 100 million customers a week. But while some economists credit Wal-Mart's single-minded focus on low costs with helping contain U.S. inflation, others charge that the company is the main force driving the massive overseas shift to China in the production of American consumer goods, resulting in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and a lower standard of living here at home.

    Internal links on the PBS webpage:

    The China Connection

    Transforming America

    Frontline is a registered trademark of WGBH Boston, copyright 2004

  3. #18
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    Wal-Mart has one of the worst records for treatment of its employees. I am totally against it moving in - it destroys shoppibng districts and creates the absolute lowest paying jobs with no benefits. Oh, and don't forget it is a union busting company.

  4. #19
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    Globest.com

    Analysts Ponder Wal-Mart in NYC

    Friday, December 10, 2004
    By Ian Ritter


    Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.


    NEW YORK CITY-Wal-Mart’s proposed store in a Vornado Realty Trust development in Rego Park, Queens could just be the beginning of an overall push into the city by the largest retailer in the world, industry observers say. Plans for the store follow urban openings by the Home Depot and Target here earlier in the year.


    Wal-Mart is not releasing many details about its Queens store. A company spokeswoman says it will be a standard Wal-Mart discount store without perishable groceries, as opposed to a Supercenter. Though the unit will be on one level, it is still not decided what floor of development will house the store. The unit could open some time in 2008. The company has no specific plans to expand in New York City, she says.



    The retailer could eventually open about three stores in each of the city’s boroughs, including Manhattan, says David Rosenberg, an EVP at locally based real estate services firm Robert K. Futterman & Associates. “Wal-Mart’s understanding of the market will determine how many stores there can be.”


    Big-box retailers are moving into urban areas such as New York City because, in many cases, they don’t have much more room to expand in the suburbs, Rosenberg says. “The main problem those companies will face, besides high real estate costs, is adapting their store formats to urban environments. The biggest obstacle for these companies is to look beyond the typical prototype location.”



    The stores Wal-Mart is able to build in the city will be the chain’s most successful, says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of locally based Davidowitz & Associates, a retail consulting and investment banking firm. “The Rego Park move is brilliant,” he says, noting the sales at nearby Queens Mall, which are among the highest posted by a US shopping center. “These are middle-class customers. These are Wal-Mart customers.”


    Davidowitz also thinks the chain has the potential to open stores in other boroughs, as well as add more in Queens, but he says he is skeptical of a future store in Manhattan. “Target has looked for years, but all they’ve done is a temporary store,” Davidowitz says, yet notes that there is a slight possibility such an opening could happen.


    Though it does not yet have New York City store, Wal-Mart is nearly everywhere else in the country. The retailer operates more than 3,600 stores across the country and expects to increase its total square footage by 8% next year.

  5. #20

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    Shopping in the City
    by Gail Robinson
    13 Dec 2004

    Somebody used pepper spray at the biggest Toys ‘R’ Us in the world, the one in Times Square, and since this anti-riot chemical, made from cayenne peppers, can cause temporary blindness, some 3,000 shoppers were evacuated. Many did not stay out for long. “I was scared,” a nine-year-old told the Daily News. “Now I want to go back in for toys.”

    The incident occurred, after all, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping weekend of the year, in the city where people come from around the world just to go shopping.

    Then last week, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer and a symbol to its critics of all that is wrong with the big chain stores, announced plans to open its first outlet in New York.

    Shopping has long been recognized as a quintessential New York activity, but it is far more important to the city's economy than most New Yorkers realize. Only Wall Street, some say, is as central to the city's financial health as the retail industry, which provides billions in tax revenue and an increasing percentage of the city's jobs.

    But the arrival of chain stores, along with the rise of Internet shopping (see related story), have altered the retail industry in New York. Wal-Mart is not planning to open its New York store until about 2007, but many other chains have already established a very visible presence, including Target and Home Depot, and a giant Ikea has been approved for the Brooklyn waterfront.

    SHOPPING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

    New York City has been a shopping capital for a century and a half. Department stores were invented here; the first one debuted in 1862 at Astor Place. Retailers such as F.A.O. Schwarz and Tiffany's later moved north to the area from Union Square to 23rd Street, which became known as Ladies Mile and featured such opulent stores as Siegel-Cooper, with its marble staircases and a pet department that sold panther cubs. By the 1890's, a tourist guide could proclaim, "all America goes to New York for its shopping," and this became even more true at the turn of the century, when R.H. Macy moved further uptown to 34th Street, with a half dozen grand emporiums to follow.

    The era of the city department store lasted until the middle of the 20th century. That is when a new form of shopping emporium was invented – the suburban shopping mall, which killed downtown shopping districts across the country, and helped put many New York department stores out of business.

    New York recovered in the 1990s, with the advent of expensive boutiques in Soho, on Madison Avenue and in the Upper West Side; a much-publicized 1990 guidebook was entitled "New York On $1,000 A Day/Before Lunch." In 2000, according to the Independent Budget Office, stores in New York grossed $21.9 billion in sales.

    Following a sharp decline after September 11, 2001, Soho has rebounded this year, with the opening of a Bloomingdale's and an Apple store that some liken to a singles bar, others to a theme park. A new shopping mall -- the Time-Warner Center -- brought an array of chain stores for the affluent to Columbus Circle.

    If some of the new stores seem specifically tailored for New York, most reflect what could be considered the third wave of New York emporiums -- transplants from suburbia.

    MORE JOBS, FOR LESS PAY

    More than 260,0000 New Yorkers worked in the retail industry (excluding bars and restaurants) in 2003, accounting for about one-twelfth of all workers in the city.

    Retail workers tend to be less educated than city workers as a whole, and years ago might have found employment in manufacturing. But factory jobs in the city have declined sharply, while the number of retail jobs has risen.

    The average retail worker in New York, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, earned a little less than $30,000 a year in 2003. Nearly two thirds of full-time retail workers do not have health insurance benefits provided by their employers.

    And these retail jobs pay less and less. (pdf format)

    While the figures do not distinguish between chain stores and others, the drop in wages coincides with the move of chains to the city. About 70 percent of metropolitan supermarkets are unionized, providing workers with health benefits and pensions, but most big retail stores, such as Target, K-Mart, and CVS, are not.

    "The quality of jobs in retail is really spotty," said Bruce Herman of the Center for Workforce and Economic Development.

    CHAIN STORES

    While some entrepreneurs launch their own businesses -- Fifth Avenue and Smith Street in Brooklyn, for instance, have both seen a spate of new stores selling fashion and unusual home accessories -- chain stores account for much of the expansion in New York's retail industry.

    Many shoppers hail the chain stores, saying they offer the kind of products and prices that consumers once had to go to the suburbs to get. But others fear these multinational businesses have destroyed local establishments that once formed the economic backbone of the city and gave it much of its character. Book chains, for example, have helped wipe out cherished local independent bookstores such as Rizzoli's and the Endicott. Rents in malls, as well as demanding specifications written into leases, tend to exclude local businesses of all kinds in favor of chains.

    Over the past decade, chain stores have replaced locally owned shops on the Upper West Side. "Midtown Manhattan keeps creeping further north. The big-box stores are replacing the mom-and-pop stores that were our mainstay," Assemblymember Scott Stringer told the Post.

    Home Depot has opened two branches in Manhattan, complete with escalators and a concierge. Not even sex shops are locally owned. The first U.S. branch of Myla, an upscale British chain selling erotic wares, opened on Madison Avenue this fall.

    There is a surreal aspect to the mushrooming of the chains. Often two Starbucks sit a block from one another. In 2002, Cingular Wireless announced plans to open 200 stores in the New York area. "It's a branding issue more than anything else," Bradley Mendelson, a real estate broker working for Cingular said at the time. "Everybody knows AT&T, and everybody knows VoiceStream. Why do they know them? Because they have stores on the street."

    Along with high rents, chain stores seeking to enter Manhattan face community opposition and the search for suitable space. To make things easier, Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1996 proposed changes to city zoning that would have allowed stores under 200,000 square feet, the size of the average Ikea, to be built in manufacturing zones without approval from the City Council. But the City Council overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.

    The council has approved individual big box stores, including the Brooklyn Ikea. And some of the stores do not need the council's acceptance. In response to Wal-Mart's possible move to New York, Councilmember Christine Quinn announced that she will propose a bill requiring that the council review plans for any big box store above a certain square footage.

    THE BOROUGHS' BIG BOXES

    While most big retailers dream of Manhattan, many settle in the boroughs, where there is more space, less cost, and lots of eager shoppers. Last year, real estate broker Chris Conlon estimated that there might be one mall for every 50,000 people on Long Island, compared to one for every 300,000 people in the boroughs. While the figures are rough, they do indicate a gap that stores want to fill.

    Shopping malls already thrive in Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn. The Queens Center, which opened in 1973, has had sales per square foot that are triple the national average for malls. The Old Navy at Atlantic Center in Brooklyn has been among that chain's most successful stores. In its first weeks of operation, the new Target at Atlantic Terminal (see related story in the Community Gazettes) "far exceeded our expectations," a store manager told the Times.

    Seeing such results, more retailers are coming to the boroughs, including the Bronx. This summer, River Plaza in Marble Hill opened, bringing the Bronx its first Target and its first Starbucks. The borough is "not a well known market, but retailers are beginning to figure it out," David Rosenberg, a real estate broker, told Newsday.

    Michael's, a Texas-based chain of crafts stores, will open in Woodside Queens early next year -- and then move on to Manhattan. "Our approach has been to gradually push in further and further to the city," Douglas Sullivan, Michaels's executive vice president for development, told the Times. "That's how Wal-Mart used to describe the strategy . . . surrounding a city and then entering it."

    NEW YORK WAL-MART

    And now Wal-Mart itself is preparing its foray. The retailer reportedly confirmed last week that it wants to open a New York store in an area of Rego Park that already includes a Target and BestBuy. For years, Wal-Mart had tended to stay away from big, expensive cities because of high labor expenses and the cost of space for its sprawling one-story stores and huge parking lots.

    But that did not stop many New Yorkers from forming an opinion about the store. Wal-Mart, with its non-unionized workforce, inexpensive imported merchandise, and willingness to sell guns and ban books, symbolizes what many people dislike about giant chain stores. Opposition emerged almost immediately.

    Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin, the president of the Central Labor Council, said the store would come to Queens "over my dead body." An aide to Queens borough president Helen Marshall reportedly expressed concern over gun sales and allegations of charge tends to drive down wages and benefits in other businesses.

    That helps explain why urban communities sometimes rise up against Wal-Mart as David against Goliath. Earlier this year, the Chicago City Council vetoed one planned Wal-Mart. While supporters trumpeted the new jobs they said the store would bring to the city, opponents said the jobs would not be good ones. And opponents blocked a Wal-Mart in Inglewood, California, near Los Angeles, when they got the issue put on the ballot.

    It remains unclear what Wal-Mart will have to do to get its New York project approved. Whether the New York City Planning Commission and City Council get to review the store depends on the zoning of the site and Wal-Mart's specifics plans, such as parking facilities, according to the Department of City Planning.

    ARE CHAIN STORES INEVITABLE?

    Not all chain stores succeed. The Wiz electronics chain closed. In 2001, the Gap shut six Manhattan stores. A Waldenbooks and a Gap on Montage Street in Brooklyn Heights are now abandoned storefronts, though other chains may move in. The proposed merger of K-mart and Sears, both with outlets in the city, could result in stores being closed.

    And some individual merchants will always strive to offer something different. Unusual stores remain dotted throughout the city, with many in ethnic neighborhoods that serve as magnets to people eager for that spice, vegetable or piece of clothing that reminds them of their heritage."New York is a place of specialty shops," said Joshua Russ Tupper, a member of the fourth generation to run Russ and Daughters, which sells smoked fish, caviar, exotic cheeses and other treats on Houston Street.

    Jamaica, Queens, once a victim of decline, now lures shoppers, most of them African American or Caribbean, from as far away as Detroit. They like the clothing, the prices, the crowds, and the stores that sell products geared to the black community that they may find hard to get at home. Of course, Jamaica could fall victim to its own success. Last year both Old Navy and The Gap opened in the neighborhood.

    http://www.gothamgazette.com/article...41213/200/1209

  6. #21
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    Read somewhere that the site will have two 20 story plus residential buildings above it. Not bad. Glad to see this finally getting developed, just sitting there like that.

  7. #22

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    December 17, 2004

    Critics Seek to Block Plan for Wal-Mart in Queens

    By JENNIFER 8. LEE

    A proposal to make Rego Park in Queens the site of the city's first Wal-Mart has mobilized labor groups, elected officials and local businesses in an effort to keep it away, even as some area residents say they would welcome its famously low prices.

    Wal-Mart announced last week that it is planning to build a 135,000-square-foot store in Rego Park in a parking lot located one block off the bustling Queens Boulevard retail strip. Vornado Realty Trust, a Manhattan commercial real estate company, controls both the lot and a neighboring complex that already houses large stores like Sears, Old Navy, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

    Brian M. McLaughlin, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, said that opposition to Wal-Mart is uniting businesses, labor unions, the N.A.A.C.P., immigrant advocacy groups and religious organizations. "We think Wal-Mart is a thread that links us all together," said Mr. McLaughlin, whose group serves as an umbrella for 1.5 million workers in New York City. "Wal-Mart is a buzzword for indecency."

    Wal-Mart sells everything from electronics to clothing and has been criticized for driving local competitors out of business, and for the modest wages it pays its workers.

    Mia Masten, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said the average Wal-Mart full-time wage in urban areas of $10.38 an hour is twice the minimum wage in New York City.

    "Looking at small business owners, they are very tenacious, very savvy, flexible and adaptable," said Ms. Masten. "In order for anyone to survive you have to be able to service your customers."

    Ruben Cruz, manager of sales at a nearby CompUSA, said representatives from corporate headquarters contacted him as soon as the news broke about the proposed Wal-Mart. Mr. Cruz had to print out the proposed site on MapQuest, color it in and fax it to headquarters. "I'm up in arms and preparing," he said.

    But, as if to underscore the varied emotions brought on by the mere mention of the name Wal-Mart, some residents shrugged off the concerns. "It brings shopping, people, business, jobs," said David Mammina, an architect who describes himself as unabashedly "pro-development."

    Jon Batash, a doctor who lives and works in the area, said: "They're going to do well. People in this neighborhood all shop at the store that offers the best price. They don't have that much loyalty."

    Still, Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a Democrat who represents Rego Park, held a press conference yesterday to voice his opposition to the proposal. "Such purported low costs has high costs for the community," he said.

    Wal-Mart, which opens about 300 stores a year, is going into urban areas to maintain the company's growth. It recently received approval to build a store in Chicago, and has also opened a store in Los Angeles. The company is also moving aggressively in the New York metropolitan area, opening a store in Secaucus, N.J., on Oct. 21 and planning to open a store in White Plains.

    The Queens Wal-Mart will be subject to the city's months-long land-use approval process, which includes a review by the local community board, the Queens borough president and the City Planning Commission.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  8. #23

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    February 10, 2005

    As Wal-Mart Plans Foothold, New York Closes Ranks

    By STEVEN GREENHOUSE


    A 132,000-square-foot Wal-Mart, New York City's first, is planned for 2008 on this parking lot in Rego Park, Queens, but labor union leaders, small-business owners and some mayoral candidates plan to oppose it.

    al-Mart is eager to make New York City its next frontier," said an East Coast representative of the company, but many New Yorkers seem ready to welcome Wal-Mart as enthusiastically as a frontier town welcomes a desperado.

    Small businesses, union leaders, City Council members and even some mayoral candidates are gearing up to prevent Wal-Mart from setting foot in town, now that the world's largest retailer has acknowledged it wants to open its first New York City store, planned for Rego Park, Queens, in 2008.

    Vornado Realty Trust, the developer whose proposed shopping complex would include a 132,000-square-foot Wal-Mart, has filed a land-use application with the city, and the approval process is expected to take seven months. But Wal-Mart's opponents are planning to pressure every government body that will consider the application - the community board, the City Planning Commission and the City Council - to reject it.

    The fight seems likely to become the biggest battle against a single store in the city's history, because the labor movement sees Wal-Mart as Public Enemy No. 1 since it is so anti-union, and because many small businesses fear that tens of thousands of Wal-Mart-loving consumers will flock to the store, taking millions of dollars in business with them.

    "There will never be a more diverse and comprehensive coalition than this effort against Wal-Mart," said Richard Lipsky, spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, an anti-Wal-Mart coalition in New York. "It will include small-business people, labor people, environmental groups, women's groups, immigrant groups and community groups."

    One factor that will make the fight unusually intense is that labor has decided that frustrating Wal-Mart's New York ambitions is pivotal to its new, nationwide campaign to pressure the company to improve the way it pays and treats its workers.

    "Wal-Mart has come to represent the lowest common denominator in the treatment of working people," said Brian M. McLaughlin, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, the umbrella group of more than one million union members. "Wal-Mart didn't build its empire on bargains. They built it on the backs of working people here and abroad."

    Wal-Mart - which says it is looking at more sites in New York - has faced opposition elsewhere, most notably in Chicago and Inglewood, a Los Angeles suburb. Last May, the Chicago City Council voted to allow a Wal-Mart on the city's West Side, but blocked one proposed for the South Side, while in Inglewood voters rejected a Wal-Mart, 60 percent to 40 percent, in a referendum last April.

    Nonetheless, company officials seem surprised by the hostility they have encountered here, especially because the city has more than a dozen big-box discount stores.

    "I hope we'll be given a fair chance," said Mia Masten, the East Coast representative of Wal-Mart. "We are interested in New York City. With the population there, it would be a wonderful opportunity for us in terms of reaching a customer base we haven't reached yet."

    In all this early skirmishing, one not inconsequential group seems largely forgotten: New York's consumers. Many of them love Wal-Mart's low prices.

    "I like Wal-Mart," said Sheila Richardson, a correction officer who lives in Corona, Queens, and was shopping last week at the Sears mall across 62nd Drive from the planned Wal-Mart site, which would be a block from the intersection of Queens Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway.

    "I'm a shopaholic," she said, "and once a week I drive to Wal-Mart in Hempstead or Westbury and even where I grew up, in Albany. It would be good to have a Wal-Mart nearby."

    Danielle Sweetman, a receptionist for Catholic Charities, agreed, saying a Wal-Mart in Queens would spare her the 40-minute drive to the Wal-Mart in Hempstead. "I'm looking forward to Wal-Mart coming," she said. "It has better bargains, and I can get almost anything there."

    Steven Malanga, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research organization, said Wal-Mart's opponents unfairly want to deprive consumers of greater choices. "The nature of the debate is whether New York gets to have the broadest shopping opportunities that exist elsewhere," he said. "Mark Green always did studies showing that stores in New York were ripping off the poor, and then the City Council tries stopping big-box stores. So why do people get ripped off? Because we're restricting competition." Mr. Green was the city's public advocate.

    The store is already becoming an issue in this year's mayoral campaign. Two Democratic candidates, Anthony D. Weiner, the congressman who represents Rego Park, and Gifford Miller, the Council's speaker, have voiced opposition to the Wal-Mart store. Mr. Weiner said recently that "Wal-Mart has blazed a path of economic and social destruction in towns throughout the U.S."

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican, appeared to support the Wal-Mart project in his initial comments on the plan, but now mayoral aides say it is by no means a given that he will support it.

    "You can't sit there and just say these big stores should not be allowed to be built in this city," he told reporters recently, voicing concern that the city was losing shoppers, jobs and sales tax revenues to big stores in the suburbs.

    Wal-Mart executives say they have not signed an official deal with Vornado, and some city officials say that if the heat grows too intense, Wal-Mart may walk away from the project or Vornado may ask it to drop out, hoping to find another tenant that provokes less opposition. Vornado declined to comment.

    Officials in the city's planning department are doing an initial review of Vornado's application to see whether all the necessary papers, including a preliminary environmental impact filing, have been submitted. Vornado's application calls for a three-story shopping complex, two 25-story apartment towers and 1,400 parking spaces. The Wal-Mart store, occupying the first floor, would not include a supermarket.

    Various approvals, including changes to a previous land-use plan for the site, are needed, planning officials explained, because of the height, the residential use and the expiration of approvals from 1986 for a mall at the site.

    Once all the papers are filed, Rego Park's community board is to hold a hearing and submit a recommendation to the planning commission. The Queens borough president can also hold a hearing and make recommendations. After the borough president weighs in, the City Planning Commission must hold a hearing and has 60 days to approve, modify or reject the application. If the commission approves it, the Vornado application goes to the City Council's zoning and franchise subcommittee, then to its land-use committee and then to the whole Council.

    The community board and the planning commission are supposed to consider 20 land-use issues, including effects on traffic, air quality and neighboring shopping districts. They are not supposed to consider whether Wal-Mart is antiunion, but the Council's politicians are expected to be mindful of such arguments.

    For the community board and city planners, one fear is that Wal-Mart's presence could badly undercut one of the borough's best-known shopping districts, Austin Street in Forest Hills, one mile away.

    Lenny Karp, whose family has run Austin Shoes since 1942, voiced fears that Wal-Mart's low prices, high volume and huge name would drive many storeowners under. "I'm a small retailer. How can I compete with them?" he said. "They can devastate a community. We've seen that happen elsewhere. The small-business owner is no match for them."

    A customer interrupted to say Mr. Karp's customers would remain loyal, but Mr. Karp said newcomers to the neighborhood might never even visit his store because they might go right to Wal-Mart. "Right now, I work seven days a week now to support my family," he said. "I just don't think it's fair if they come."

    Sung Soo Kim, president of the city's Small Business Congress, with 130,000 members, said: "There's a myth that local businesses can be competitive with megastores. Those megastores are category-killing. They cannibalize existing retail merchants."

    Perhaps the strongest opposition to Wal-Mart will come from organized labor, which has told City Council members that Wal-Mart pays low wages, provides health insurance to fewer than half its workers, is vehemently antiunion and faces a huge sex-discrimination lawsuit.

    Wal-Mart's Ms. Masten said the new store would create over 300 jobs. She said Wal-Mart stores in cities paid $10.38 an hour on average; union officials put the figure around $9.25. She said Wal-Mart offers profit-sharing, a 401(k) plan and affordable health benefits, starting at $40 a month for individual coverage and $155 a month for family coverage.

    Noting that Wal-Mart employs 1.2 million Americans, she said, "People wouldn't stay with a company that wasn't providing opportunities and competitive wages and benefits."

    Helen Sears, the council member who represents Rego Park, said she had cautioned Wal-Mart officials about their labor practices.

    "I've said to them, they are the biggest daddy of all, and if they want to do big things, if they want to do work in our Big Apple, their policies absolutely need to be reviewed," she said. "They have to put something in place that's a little different from what they have now."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  9. #24

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    Looks like it's time to circle the wagons.

  10. #25

  11. #26

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynRider
    Wal-Mart has one of the worst records for treatment of its employees. I am totally against it moving in - it destroys shoppibng districts and creates the absolute lowest paying jobs with no benefits. Oh, and don't forget it is a union busting company.
    From CTV.ca, regarding the store Walmart is closing to keep from setting a union precedent:
    Wal-Mart to close unionized store in Quebec

    var byString = ""; var sourceString = "Canadian Press"; if ((sourceString != "") && (byString != "")) { document.write(byString + ", "); } else { document.write(byString); } Canadian Press

    MONTREAL — Denying it wants to bust the union, Wal-Mart announced Wednesday it will close a Quebec store whose employees were involved in negotiations to become the first ever to establish a union contract from the world's biggest retailer.

    Wal-Mart Canada spokesman Andrew Pelletier said that anyone who assumes the decision was made as an attempt to bust the union "doesn't understand what went on over the past few months. "This store could easily have closed months ago and we didn't do that. We made a determination we were going to bargain in good faith."

    The store, which will close in May, is located in Saguenay, about 250 kilometres north of Quebec City. Nearly 200 employees received union accreditation last summer, making it the chain's only unionized outlet at the time.

    Pelletier said the company and the United Food & Commercial Workers Canada union had been trying since last October to reach a collective agreement that would allow the store to continue operating. Last week, the union asked Quebec labour officials to appoint a mediator, saying negotiations had reached an impasse.

    "Last week, the union ended the collective-bargaining phase of the process and applied for first-contract arbitration," Pelletier said.

    "In doing that, they basically acknowledged that the two sides were not going to reach an agreement. First-contract arbitration, within the context of Quebec, means a contract would ultimately be imposed on to the store."

    Pelletier said the union's demands on scheduling and employee status would have required the hiring of at least 30 new people and resulted in extra work hours.

    "Some of the union's demands failed to appreciate the fragile condition of the Jonquiere (Saguenay) store. The store is already well-staffed and has been struggling economically.

    "It's a business decision, it's an economic-viability issue ultimately, but it's been exacerbated through added pressures."

    The union representing the workers refused comment and said it would discuss the matter at a news conference Friday.

    But Jean-Marc Crevier, a Quebec Federation of Labour spokesman in the region, called the announcement a "very big blow."

    "I'm trying to think of what the employees are going through," Crevier said. "I've got goosebumps just thinking of it. It's sad."

    Claudia Tremblay, a cashier at the store, said many employees burst into tears when managers told them about the news Wednesday morning.

    "Many people cried, including myself," Tremblay, 29, said in an interview.

    "I'm a mother of two children and I'm separated from my husband. It's very difficult."

    Tremblay said she abstained from the unionization vote, adding she was upset that her non-committal stance won't save her job.

    Employees at another Wal-Mart store in St-Hyacinthe, east of Montreal, have also been accredited recently.

    Wal-Mart operates two other non-unionized stores in the Saguenay-Lac St-Jean region.

    The union efforts at both stores are part of a larger chess game labour organizers are waging with Wal-Mart at stores across Canada. The campaign, financed by UFCW money from both Canada and the United States, is also geared to capture the attention of workers in Wal-Mart's home country.

    The closest a U.S. union has ever come to winning a battle with Wal-Mart was in 2000, at a store in Jacksonville, Texas. In that store, 11 workers - all members of the store's meatpacking department - voted to join and be represented by the UFCW.

    That effort failed when Wal-Mart eliminated the job of meatcutter companywide, and moved away from in-store meatcutting to stocking only pre-wrapped meat.

    Recently, some workers in the tire department of a Wal-Mart store in Colorado have sought union representation, and the U.S. National Labor Relations Board has said it intends to schedule a vote.

    Wal-Mart's world headquarters are based in Arkansas. Its Canadian division, whose head office is in Mississauga, Ont., operates 256 stores and six Sam's Clubs across Canada with more than 70,000 employees.

  13. #28

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    February 20, 2005

    THE CITY

    Big Challenge for a Big Box

    he tension between suburban-style big-box stores and the deeply urban environs of New York City has already spawned a raft of land-use squabbles. But now the biggest box of them all, Wal-Mart, has its eye on a site in Queens. As it argues its case, the world's largest retailer may have found something it cannot discount: local concerns about traffic and the environment coupled with anger over Wal-Mart's questionable labor practices.

    It's not that the city is totally averse to big-box stores. New Yorkers like bargains as much as anyone else, particularly if the location is right. BJ's Wholesale Club successfully built stores in Brooklyn and Queens before retreating in the face of opposition to its plans to expand into the Bronx. But traffic concerns in particular can raise the hackles of local residents who are already gridlocked for much of their waking lives. Ikea, the home-furnishing store based in Sweden, won the city's approval last October to build in Red Hook in Brooklyn, but now it is under fire over traffic and other environmental issues, and opponents have sued to have its permission revoked. The Rego Park lot where a Wal-Mart could be built as part of a larger development is just a short walk from Queens Boulevard, a traffic nightmare where some 85 pedestrians have died in the last 20 years. The area is already stuffed with high-rise rentals and co-ops and a carnival of shopping that includes the city's biggest mall. The suitability of a big-box store in that neighborhood will be weighed by the City Council Land Use Committee, which considers development plans for their impact on roads and transportation. The committee is a large hurdle such projects must negotiate, and it's where the Bronx BJ's was rejected, ostensibly over traffic worries.

    The Council is not supposed to extend its review to things like working conditions, but it would have been hard for local politicians to ignore the outcry over the fact that BJ's is nonunion and was forced by the Department of Labor to pay workers who were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime. Wal-Mart recently closed a store in Quebec after its workers organized the first union in the chain.

    It makes little sense to block a store just because its employees don't have union protection when thousands of stores in the city aren't unionized - including many of the small businesses that complain when the big discounters move in. However, when a company lobbies to win the special zoning needed to locate in New York, arguing that it will create jobs, it's natural to look at the quality of the employment offered. Wal-Mart has drawn attention to itself for practices like locking in employees overnight to prevent theft. It recently had to pay to settle charges it violated child labor laws and the chain faces an enormous sex-discrimination lawsuit. Its wages are low - about $10 an hour in urban areas. It offers insurance coverage but priced out of reach for many; only half of its employees sign up for it. That means taxpayers ultimately bear the burden of uninsured workers who need medical care.

    The company says it is looking at several other sites - including, perhaps, the Bronx location that BJ's abandoned. Having already saturated the market in many parts of the country, it is determined to tap into the huge local population of shoppers. But if Wal-Mart wants to make it here, it needs to know this: In New York, it has met one tough customer.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  14. #29

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    February 24, 2005

    Developer Drops Plan for City's First Wal-Mart

    By STEVEN GREENHOUSE


    Whatever eventually rises on this site in Rego Park, Queens, the city's first Wal-Mart will not be part of it.

    acing intense opposition, a large real estate developer has dropped its plans to include a Wal-Mart store in a Queens shopping complex, thwarting Wal-Mart's plan to open its first store in New York City, city officials and real estate executives said yesterday.

    The decision by the developer, Vornado Realty Trust, is a blow to Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, and comes after company officials said that New York City was an important new frontier in which Wal-Mart was eager to expand.

    A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the company was still exploring other sites in the city, but the possibility that the company would open a 132,000-square-foot store in Queens had immediately stirred a storm of opposition by neighborhood, labor and environmental groups as well as small businesses. Wal-Mart also faced opposition from many City Council members and several members of Congress.

    Labor unions fought Wal-Mart with a special intensity because they believe its wage levels and benefits are pulling down standards for workers through the United States.

    Melinda Katz, chairwoman of the Council's Land Use Committee, said a Vornado representative informed her yesterday that Vornado was no longer negotiating with Wal-Mart for it to be part of the mall planned for Rego Park, Queens, in 2008.

    "I think they just decided it's not worth the complications of having Wal-Mart," Ms. Katz said. "The idea of Wal-Mart was overshadowing what could very well be a good project."

    Roanne Kulakoff, a Vornado spokeswoman, declined to comment, except to say there was never a formal deal between Vornado and Wal-Mart. But one executive briefed on the talks between Vornado and Wal-Mart said Vornado had concluded that keeping Wal-Mart would jeopardize the city's approval of a large, ambitious project that included other stores and two 25-story apartment towers.

    "There were people who felt it was a major risk for the project," said the executive, who asked not to be identified in order not to anger either side.

    The executive said Vornado had originally hoped that city planning officials would approve the Rego Park project before it before it became publicly known that Wal-Mart was involved. But once Wal-Mart's participation became public, the opposition mushroomed, and the fight was shaping up to be the biggest battle against a single store in the city's history.

    Small-business advocates declared victory after the decision was made public, but predicted that the battle would resume in other neighborhoods. "Vornado saw the writing on the wall and responded the way a developer needs to when he knows he's holding a losing hand," said Richard Lipsky, spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, an anti-Wal-Mart coalition in New York. "We stopped Wal-Mart this time, but they are going to continue their efforts to open in New York and we will be sure to meet that with significant opposition wherever else they try to locate."

    Mia Masten, Wal-Mart's director of corporate affairs for the Eastern region, sought to downplay yesterday's developments. She noted that Vornado and Wal-Mart had never signed a formal deal to include Wal-Mart in the complex, planned to be built near the intersection of Queens Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway. Nonetheless, city planning officials and City Council members said Vornado had told them that it wanted to include Wal-Mart.

    "We never had a deal," Ms. Masten said, adding that Wal-Mart remains interested in opening stores in New York City. "In fact, we continue to explore a number of possible sites throughout the five boroughs," she said. "Until we have an executed agreement for a specific site, we will not comment on any ongoing negotiations."

    Ms. Masten declined to say whether Vornado had dropped Wal-Mart from the project or whether Wal-Mart had pulled out voluntarily. Wal-Mart's opponents said that Vornado might have been swayed in part by a unanimous vote of the City Council's Land Use Committee two weeks ago to block a B.J.'s Wholesale Club in the Bronx. In the face of intense lobbying by environmental, community and labor groups, the committee overruled the local planning board and the borough president.

    Several shoppers interviewed yesterday in Rego Park said they were disappointed that a Wal-Mart would not be coming to the neighborhood, noting that many Queens residents now travel to Long Island to take advantage of the store's low prices.

    "It would've been good if we had a Wal-Mart near by because then we wouldn't have to travel outside the area," said Rolando Sands, 21, a soft drink deliverer from Jamaica, Queens. "We'd be able to keep the money in the Queens community instead of Long Island."

    Corinth King, 45, a traffic enforcement agent from Rego Park, said she had been looking forward to the store's variety. "They have a lot of good sales," she said. "I like it for things for the bathroom and the kitchen. They have a wide variety. I'm going to miss it."

    But shoppers did not form an organized group to support Wal-Mart.

    Helen Sears, the City Council member representing Rego Park, had warned Wal-Mart, which has several stores in the suburbs surrounding the city, that to win approval in the city itself, it needed to improve its wages, health benefits and pensions and end its vehement stance against unions.

    "I am hopeful that if Wal-Mart attempts to locate another site, whether in Queens or Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan or Staten Island, that its officials work tirelessly to improve workplace benefits and conditions so that New York City will welcome it with open arms," Ms. Sears said. "Until then, we can only offer our backs."

    Small-business owners had voiced fears that opening a Wal-Mart in Queens would push hardware stores, shoe stores and many apparel shops out of business, as has been the case in many small towns where Wal-Mart is dominant. Company officials said the store would bring low prices to New Yorkers and would create more than 300 jobs.

    City Hall officials declined yesterday to discuss the Wal-Mart matter. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appeared at first to back the project, saying that it was wrong to simply say that warehouse-type stores should not be allowed in the city. But his aides later said that it was not at all clear that he would ultimately support the project.

    Charles V. Bagli and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting for this article.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  15. #30
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    The irony of this being that there are already stores like Home Depot and Bed and Bath that are chaining out all the mom and pops in that area to begin with.

    Queens wants to be like NJ, a mall on every corner, only more crowded.

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