Take down the ‘wall’ against Walmart

| lpenner@queenscourier.com |

Polls of ordinary New Yorkers continue resulting year after year and now decade after decade to support the right of Walmart to open stores in Willets Point and other locations in Queens along with Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Residents in the other 59 counties outside of New York City within New York State have had the option of shopping or not shopping at Walmart for decades. The same is true for virtually every other city and state. Only NYC is behind the times.

NYC residents continue to be denied the opportunity to shop at Walmart due to excuses made by politicians such as NYC Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, most members of the City Council along with numerous fellow liberal Democratic Party elected officials and their union allies. Many other Democratic State Assembly, State Senate and Congress members also oppose Walmart opening stores within their respective legislative districts, boroughs or any place in NYC. They feel that we should oppose Walmart because of substandard salaries and unfair competition they would provide against smaller stores.

Construction of a new Walmart can provide work for construction contractors and their employees. Once opened, there are employment opportunities for many workers. Over ten percent of New Yorkers including students, housewives, heads of single family households, senior citizens and others currently out of work along with seven percent who have given up looking could find employment. The city would benefit by millions in sales, payroll and real-estate tax revenue which could help fund essential municipal services everyone desires.

Walmart is the nation’s largest private sector employer with over 1,200,000 employees and growing each year. Tens of millions of Americans including many fellow New Yorkers own stock in Walmart. The same is true for the various retirement and pension plans many people participate in. Starting pay averages several dollars above the minimum wage for new employees around the nation. Promotional opportunities including training for higher paying managerial positions are common. They also offer health care and other benefits. Walmart may actually pay higher salaries and offer more benefits than some of their competitors such as Target, K-Mart, Costco and BJs which are already here.

Several hundred thousand New Yorkers work off the books, full- and part-time with no benefits. Many existing retailers pay minimum wage with no benefits. Public officials opposing Walmart never talk about these abuses.

The free enterprise system made our nation great. Economic growth and the creation of wealth comes from businesses— small and large. Consumers shopping at Walmart get a bigger bang for the buck by being able to compare prices, quality and service to other stores.

Many New Yorkers, poor, working class, single household, middle class and seniors can’t afford to pay extra. They need the great prices, good quality merchandise, affordable food, drugs and school supplies that Walmart offers.

Consumers have voted, with their feet, all over America making Walmart the number one retail merchant success story it is today. It is time to allow Walmart the opportunity to compete in the NYC marketplace as well!

If public officials continue refusing you a choice, the only recourse you have is to vote them out of office or deny them promotion to higher public office. Ask your local candidates in the upcoming September 13 primary or November 6 general election were they stand on Walmart. Don’t vote for them, if they will not give you a right as a consumer to decide who to patronize.

Challenge the six aspiring 2013 Democratic Party Mayoral candidates — New York City Comptroller John Lui, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill DiBlasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson and Manhattan Media publisher Tom Allon that you will not support any of them for mayor in 2013 if they don’t afford you your rights today. Do the same for your local NYC Councilmember and wannabe candidates to replace Queens Borough President Helen Marshall in 2013. For those “Politically Correct,” don’t shop at Walmart, but give everyone else a choice.