NEW YORK — The NYC Free Wal-Mart Coalition (NFWC) received a surprisingly quick first victory Feb. 24 when mall developers in Rego Park, Queens, rescinded their offer of a spot for Wal-Mart in a proposed shopping center.

News about the proposed Wal-Mart, which would have been the first in the city, ignited a storm of outrage and led to the founding of the NFWC, a coalition of unions, community and religious organizations, and elected officials opposed to its arrival here.

Wal-Mart is particularly hated because of its unfair labor policies, as well as its track record of undermining the economic health of the communities into which it moves.

“The message to Wal-Mart today is simple: New York is one tough customer, and if you want to do business with us, you must clean up your act,” said Brian McLaughlin, a state assemblyman and head of the city’s Central Labor Council. “Wal-Mart is a staunchly anti-union employer that has deployed ruthless intimidation tactics to suppress workers’ rights to organize a union, while driving down wages and benefits in the retail industry and beyond.”

According to reports, Voronado Realty Trust, a large real estate developer, had offered Wal-Mart a spot in a proposed new shopping center in Rego Park. However, the developers reportedly tried to keep a lid on Wal-Mart’s participation so as not to arouse labor and community opposition. When the story broke, and as outrage spread, Voronado got cold feet and withdrew the offer.

“It is a big victory, and of course we’re extremely ecstatic about it. We’re continuing to fight, and this is a message to Wal-Mart,” said Jean Kim, head of the labor council’s Immigration Subcommittee. “We had our coalition partners, and we had a lot of political support. That helped to put pressure on the developer and make them realize we don’t really want a neighbor with this baggage.”

Wal-Mart’s director of corporate affairs for the East Region, Mia Masten, said, “Wal-Mart is interested in opening stores in New York City and we continue to explore locations throughout the five boroughs.”

For people involved in the struggle against Wal-Mart, Masten’s statement is ominous — no one knows where Wal-Mart will try to set up next.

“We’re making sure that people know this isn’t over,” Kim said. “There’s still a war to be won, but this was a major battle that we’re extremely happy about.”

dmargolis@pww.org

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