Tag Archives: Walmart

Dromm, DRUM lead rally after Bangladesh factory fire


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

With his handheld camcorder, Gulam Sarwar Harum swept through the chanting crowd, capturing their faces and voices as they bellowed for the workers who perished in a fire in a Bangladesh factory.

“Workers’ rights and human rights! Workers’ rights and human rights!” they yelled, waving homemade signs etched with English and Bengali cries for justice.

“We feel that they are a part of us,” said Sarwar Harum, a member of advocacy group Desis Rising up and Moving (DRUM). “We have to speak on behalf of them.”

South Asian immigrant workers, representatives of DRUM and Councilmember Daniel Dromm rallied at the Jackson Heights Plaza to demand corporate accountability among major American companies that subcontract product assembly to workers overseas. Tensions peaked several weeks ago after a fire in a Bangladesh garment factory that yields merchandise for retailers like Walmart, Sears and Disney claimed 114 lives.

“Workers lost their lives for profit so some organization could make money,” said Fahd Ahmed, DRUM’s Legal and Policy Director at the gathering on Thursday, December 6.

Speakers called for an independent and transparent investigation into the cause of the fire as well as full and fair compensation to workers who were injured and reparations made to the families of the deceased. The group hopes other American brands will become aware of the dangers of unethically sourced goods — and that the human toll is far greater than the money saved by the companies.

Dromm, whose district contains a large Bangladeshi population, believes it’s important for issues abroad to impact stateside, as the corporations involved are based in the United States.

“It’s an American company that really is at fault for this fire,” said Dromm. “It’s the corporate greed of a company like Walmart that allows substandard-type conditions to exist in those companies that they contract out to.”

According to Dromm, the factory, which made girls’ shorts, could have provided better conditions for their workers if brands were willing to raise the price of their items by just a small amount — allowing employees to operate in healthier, safer environments and earn more than the average Bangladeshi salary of $37 a month. Dromm said the retailer’s desire to remain competitive among their price bracket rather than use ethical methods to source their merchandise was “unconscionable” and the reason Walmart and companies like it will struggle to establish stores in New York City.

“Walmart will never get into New York City,” said Dromm. “I will fight them to the very end.”

Little Neck school gets leg up with donation


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Teachers at a local Little Neck elementary school now have the means to supply their classrooms after a major retail conglomerate gave the educators a $1,000 leg up.

P.S. 94 received $50 gift cards from Walmart on October 26 for 20 of its teachers to purchase school supplies and classroom resources, school administrators said.

“This is really the first time that a huge corporation has come up and given us something tangible we could use for the children,” said Principal JoAnn Barbeosch. “It’s very gracious that they’re doing this. It’s absolutely remarkable.”

Barbeosch said the shot in the arm was much needed for the small school with limited resources, which has been struggling after budget cuts.

Money given to P.S. 94 from the city has diminished tremendously, Barbeosch said, causing most teachers to have to shell out some $300 out of pocket each year to stock their classrooms.

“We run low on supplies and it’s hard to replace them,” said Heidi Bateman, a fifth grade teacher at the school, who spends at least $200 of her own money each year. “This is a great help.”

Walmart representative Nicole Estremera said each store in the company is given about $1,000 each year to donate to one local school in need.

The 41-77 Little Neck Parkway school is home to 427 students, roughly 25 full-time teachers and about 10 part-timers, Barbeosch said. The money would also be used to buy snacks, provide incentives for the classrooms and fill prize bins with seasonal goods like spider rings or fancy pencils and erasers, she said.

Walmart, developers deny plans of a Willets Point store


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Rumors of Walmart setting up shop in Willets Point were quickly put to an end, after reports that the megastore was in talks with the developers about anchoring a store at Willets West.

The Queens Development Group, a joint venture between Related Companies and Sterling Equities, said in a statement that there has been no communication with Walmart.

“We have not had any talks with Walmart about a location at Willets Point and we have absolutely no intention of discussing this site with them,” the group said. “There have been and will be no negotiations, they are simply not a part of our plan to build an enclosed retail and entertainment destination at Willets Point, that will bring much needed jobs and economic activity to the area and lead to the development of a new neighborhood.”

A Walmart spokesperson said that while there is a public demand for the big box store in the five boroughs, the store did not have anything in the works within the city limits.

“While most New Yorkers want us in the city and we remain interested in ways to better serve local customers, we don’t have any announced projects in New York,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) added that talks or plans for a Willets Point Walmart were completely untrue.

“The developer has had no discussions with WalMart and these reports are absolutely without merit,” the spokesperson said.

In early 2011, there was a major backlash from the city council and small business owners when the store tried to move into the city. The store has been criticized in the past for reputed labor issues.

The idea of Walmart coming to Queens is not protested by all, however, as Councilmember Dan Halloran said he wouldn’t be against the chain coming to the borough and bringing with it thousands of jobs.

“If Walmart violates a single labor practice law, I’d be the first one to call them out on it and make sure they are fully dealt with by the labor department and other agencies,” Halloran said. “But I certainly don’t want to tell them to not bring their jobs here.”

Walmart grant will boost One Stop Richmond Hill Community Center


| sarahyu@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy One Stop Richmond Hill Community Center

Simcha Waisman has 10,000 more reasons to smile.

The president of the One Stop Richmond Hill Community Center was pleased to learn that Walmart has given them $10,000 in funding, through Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

“We’re proud of our track record of philanthropy in the city and are always looking for new opportunities to support programs that are making a difference,” said Steven Restivo, Senior Director of Community Affairs for Walmart, who noted that the company has contributed about $13 million to New York City-based nonprofits since 2007. “The ARISS program at the One Stop Richmond Hill Community Center helps area youth become excited about science and engineering and we hope our contribution will help the organization reach its goals.”

Waisman shared that the funds will go toward a summer camp that will be held for two weeks relating to the Center’s science and technology program.

Recently, the One Stop Richmond Hill Community Center hosted another videoconference with NASA, during which the educators there showed kids what it is like to live in space.

The children learned what kind of food they eat, what happens when you let an object go in space and also got a glimpse of the solar neighborhood.

Waisman said that getting funds is a jump-start and the beginning of the future because, with more funding and donations from the city and state, they will be able to reopen programs that were forced to close down due to financial difficulties.

Once they receive more funding from the city, Waisman explained, the One Stop Richmond Hill Community Center will be able to hold more videoconferences, the next of which will take place next week at P.S. 90.

 

Life was simpler then


| editorial@queenscourier.com

What “used to be” just does not exist any more.

One upon a time, our family shopped at “mom and pop” stores. The name was evidence that they were not the Costcos, Targets, Walmarts, BJ’s, etc. of today.

The owners knew us by name, and we purchased what we required with confidence that the products would

always be of a good quality on a daily basis. There was trust all around between the buyers and the owners.

Shopping at the very large markets in this world, still expanding all over, is a different “ball game.” Yes, there is definitely a larger variety of consumer goods, but we can not know with certainity about the quality of the foods we are buying.

Life appears to be a series of tradeoffs. However, I occasionally enjoy going back in time, to what I then considered a less stressful, and in many ways, more enjoyable environment.

 

Leonore Brooks

Whitestone

 

Could dozens of Walmarts be coming to Queens?


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Wal-Mart

A recent study estimated Walmart could open over 150 stores in New York City – 43 in Queens alone – if the retail giant is allowed to enter the New York City market.

ALIGN, a New York-based nonprofit, released a study after analyzing Walmart’s market share in the grocery industry – 21 percent – and calculating the minimum number of stores the retailer would be required to open to reach a corresponding share in the five boroughs.

To reach this market share, the study estimates Walmart would need to open 43 stores, three supercenters, nine Walmart Markets and 31 Walmart Express stores.
Reports have indicated the chain would open smaller stores – 15,000-square-foot range – in the city, as opposed to the 185,000-square-foot megastores.

In recent years, Walmart has expressed its desire to establish a presence in the largest consumer market in the U.S., only to be denied each time. A recent poll by NY1/Marist said 64 percent of Queens residents support Walmart opening a store within the city limits. Seventy six percent of residents said they would shop at the store if one opened in their neighborhood. The WalmartNYC Facebook page has garnered 47,000 likes.

According to Walmart, Queens residents spent $84.3 million last year shopping at the store. There are five Walmarts within driving distance of Queens in Nassau County.

In response to the ALIGN study, Walmart said that the market share they have in other markets took over five decades to achieve. The store called the insinuation that 159 stores will open overnight an attempt to “manipulate reality.”

“We remain focused on solutions for New Yorkers who need jobs and want more affordable grocery options in their own neighborhood,” Walmart said in a statement. “It’s clear that the overwhelming majority of residents want Walmart in the city and we’re working hard to make access to our stores more convenient.”

“Walmart is desperate for growth in New York City, because the company has saturated most non-urban U.S. markets, and its U.S. stock has been stagnating,” said Josh Kellerman, an ALIGN researcher who co-authored the study with Stephanie Luce.

The study also estimates over 1,000 jobs in Queens – and almost 4,000 throughout the city – would be lost, a number Walmart disputes as based on an out-of-date study.