Jul 2, 2012

No Walmart in Chinatown!

The people of L.A.'s Chinatown don't want a Walmart in their neighborhood.  That's why, this past Saturday, in the days leading up to Walmart's 50th birthday, hundreds of protesters from both the local area and supporters nationwide, marched through the streets to protest plans to open a store in the area. 

photo credit: LA Times
The event was a big one, complete with lion dancers, bicyclists, and a rally under Chinatown's dragon gates. But one of the most notable parts of the day, were the headlining musicians that performed to offer their support for the cause, some of which included Ben Harper and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello. The festivities highlighted the historical and cultural heritage of the area. something that those in opposition to the Walmart say will dissappear if the store were to open there. 

This weekend's protest was not just about an unwanted Chinatown Walmart however.  Many came to decry the low-wages and union busting habits that Walmart has become so well known for.  

"This historic neighborhood will be utterly gutted if Wal-Mart comes here," Morello told The Associated Press about the prospects of the retail giant driving smaller stores in Chinatown out of business, like it has done so in countless other regions. "It’s Wal-Mart’s global policy of sweatshop labor and poverty level wages that we don’t need in LA," he said.

Wal-Mart began construction this week with plans to open the store next year. The proposed store is what the company calls a "neighborhood market," one that is about a fifth the size of a supercenter and typically carries groceries, fresh produce, pharmaceuticals, deli foods, stationery and dry goods. Despite the chain's ploy to seem more neighborhood friendly, Walmart employs the same tactics in all of its stores: give as little as possible to its employees to ensure the lowest price possible.

Labor officials and others have appealed the store's opening and a hearing on the issue is expected later this summer.
More stories and pictures of the rally:

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