Monday, July 15, 2013

Pro-Walmart group passing out flyers at the Metro against Large Retailer Accountability Act, not identifying themselves

It seems a group founded and funded by Walmart is flyering our area against a bill that would force them to pay higher wages, but aren't identifying themselves.

This morning a friend went to the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro today and was asked to email the mayor "because the Large Retailer Accountability Act is driving a large retailer out of the city." It was unclear if they had a petition or not but my friend picked up a flyer (posted here, click it to read it.) My friend said it was obvious the lady with the clipboard was talking about Walmart but not actually saying it.

The sneaky part about this is the group doing the flyering: the flyer doesn't say anything about who is behind it, it just has a URL for a webpage where people can email Mayor Gray. The webpage is titled "Don't Block DC Progress," which it turns out was a group started by Walmart themselves.

The flyer basically says it's bad for the DC economy to pass the bill, which mandates that retailers that make more than $1 billion in revenue a year pay employees at stores larger than 75,000 square feet $12.50 per hour. That basically only applies to Walmart in the city, and in response to the DC Council passing the bill, Walmart announced they were not opening their three planned DC stores.

This tactic rubs me the wrong way. I think if Walmart wants to make this case, they should make it as Walmart, not as some shadowy supposed citizen's group.

Of course, this doesn't get to the issue of Walmart in the city in general -- it would be bad for local small businesses, but would arguably be more efficient in the grand scheme of things and would bring lots of jobs to those Walmarts. But would those jobs equal out the losses for low businesses? Would the workers be DC residents at all? I've seen a lot small towns with ghostly, vacant downtowns while there's a bustling Walmart at a highway interchange. Of course, you could argue that Columbia Heights doesn't have much local retail, but places like Mt. Pleasant and Georgia Avenue (especially in Petworth) do.

5 comments:

Colin said...

Target didn't turn Columbia Heights into a commercial desert, so I don't see why Walmart would be any different. Indeed, economic logic says that Walmart would create more jobs. Think about it: people go to Walmart because of lower prices. With the savings in their pocket they have more money to patronize more businesses and thus support more jobs. We don't make ourselves poorer through increased economic efficiency, which is what Walmart brings to the table.

Andrew W said...

Well, you could argue that before that Target opened, you had to go to the burbs for that kind of store. There were just no options. Now it's here, as is Best Buy (those used to only be in the burbs too, or Tenleytown.) Walmart is basically a bigger Target, no? Maybe cheaper? But kind of the same market niche.

Anonymous said...

"Common Sense" probably rubbed the British the wrong way too.

Andrew W said...

That's quite the comparison.

Anonymous said...

So tell me how allowing Walmart to pay its employees impoverishing wages benefits the economy overall again? Yes, the stockholders will make money, and yes, people will pay lower prices for merchandise. But then the cost to run those is subsidized by taxpayers, namely when Walmart's employees have to file for assistance from the State for healthcare and other financially needed coverage. I don't think people take that into account.