Retail giant Walmart suffered a setback in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday when Judge Allan J. Goodman ruled that Burbank’s city government improperly greenlighted Walmart’s plans to put a store in the sprawling Empire Center shopping complex.
Goodman, according to the Burbank Leader, “citing street improvements more than a dozen years overdue and a flawed environmental impact report, [said] that the city of Burbank must rescind building permits it issued to Walmart.”
Walmart had planned to open an outlet (which would include a grocery store) in an old Great Indoors space next year, but three Burbank residents filed a suit to block that plan. (The Empire Center, which sits on former Lockheed property, already includes a Target and Lowe’s, and a Costco is located adjacent to the center.)
City News Service reported that the plaintiffs contended “that having a Walmart at the site would violate a zoning law banning grocery stores in the center.
Dear Walmart Management,
I am the pastor at Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa, California. A few months ago, on June 25, 2013, along with six fellow pastors from around the nation, I visited the Lakewood Walmart with the hope of discussing the retaliations that have taken place nationwide following a worker strike and demonstration in Bentonville, Arkansas. We came to beseech you to reinstate Jovani Gomez, an associate of the Lakewood Walmart who we believe was fired unjustly following his participation in that action.
We were unable to discuss Mr. Gomez’s case, or any of the firings or retaliations. We were hardly able to discuss anything at all. Instead, we were met inside the store just a few feet from the entrance by one of the store’s managers, who made it clear that we were not welcome inside Walmart (he actually stated as much). Incredibly, this manager then called the police on seven peaceful pastors who simply wished to discuss Walmart’s recent actions toward their employees.
(This post first appeared on The Nation and is republished with permission.)
Nine fired workers and a current employee were arrested around 2:30 p.m. Thursday after locking arms and sitting in front of the entrance to a Washington, D.C., Walmart office. The planned act of civil disobedience concluded a noon rally at which workers announced a Labor Day deadline for Walmart to raise wages and reinstate workers they allege were fired for their activism. Twenty workers who joined a June strike by the labor group OUR Walmart have since been terminated; another 50-some have been otherwise disciplined by Walmart.
“Hopefully it opens Walmart’s eyes and lets them know that this is just the beginning,” OUR Walmart activist Barbara Collins told The Nation prior to her arrest. If Walmart doesn’t meet the Labor Day deadline, she said yesterday, “then we’re going to give them a lot more actions,
Americans believe in speaking up when something is wrong and working together to improve their lives. The freedom of speech and freedom of association are core American values and basic rights enshrined by our nation’s Constitution. Yet while our basic rights as Americans are protected under the law, Walmart doesn’t think these laws apply to them.
In recent weeks, Walmart has escalated its illegal campaign of punishing workers who exercise their right to come together and speak out for change. In attempting to silence those workers who speak out, the company has fired or disciplined more than 60 workers.
The recent string of firings comes on the heels of last month’s protest in front of Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. In late May, members of OUR Walmart held a nationwide strike and Ride for Respect caravan protesting Walmart’s unfair labor practices (ULP), which took them on a bus ride from Southern California to Bentonville,
Walmart’s expansion strategy for Los Angeles and other urban areas has been to avoid public oversight by choosing real estate that doesn’t require public review – and, where possible, to secure public subsidies, often with little public scrutiny.
This is exactly what happened in both Covina and Cathedral City. In 1993, Walmart negotiated an intricate deal with the City of Covina’s redevelopment agency that resulted in the company making a tidy profit of $4.1 million. Walmart made a $10.8 million loan to the CRA to purchase several plots of land for the corporation, which was then sold back to Walmart at the discounted price of $6.7 million. In this way, Walmart effectively received a $4.1 million subsidy from taxpayers to develop the land. Similarly, in 1995, Walmart was reimbursed by Cathedral City for $850,000 for “infrastructure improvements,” but on the day that taxpayers recovered this subsidy,