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Standing Up Against Wal-Mart

Friday, May 18, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: LocalShops1
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ST. PETERSBURG, May 17 -- It's no secret that Wal-Mart isn't popular these days. Why?

* Their wages are incredibly low and disproportionate, even for big corporation standards, on what the average worker makes compared to the top guys. Prime example: Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke gets $35 million a year. That makes his hourly wage about that of the annual salary for the average Wal-Mart employee.

* Too many lawsuits to even count.

* Wal-Mart stores come in strong, trying to take over the town, and killing small businesses in its path.

* And you can check out a compilation of "Why do People Hate Wal-Mart" here.

The anti-Wal-Mart sentiment was clear in St. Petersburg on Thursday, when a crowd of 35+ residents packed the room for a public session on proposed tax breaks for a new Sam's Club being built on what they say should be designated a Brownfield.

At stake is $240,000 in tax breaks. Pocket change for parent company Wal-Mart, which makes more than $20,000 profit EVERY minute.

Representatives from LocalShops1 joined others from the Sierra Club, Keep Saint Petersburg Local, Awake Pinellas and dozens of concerned residents to let the city know they didn't want Wal-Mart getting the tax breaks.

The pitches varied, from those who doubted whether the land should, indeed, be classified a Brownfield to those who wondered why Wal-Mart would lease land -- and start building on it! -- when officials had already determined it was contaminated. Some wondered aloud whether this was just another case of Wal-Mart being greedy. Surely, losing $240,000 in tax savings wouldn't put a dent in the giant corporation's budget.

You know you're hated, one resident told the Wal-Mart reps. Why not try to do the right thing for once?

The Wal-Mart lawyers were ready to tackle the crowd. They didn't bother to try to defend Wal-Mart's reputation. They focused on repeating that the ordinance gives them the right to ask for the tax breaks. According to Wal-Mart and city of St. Petersburg officials, they qualified -- and deserved -- the breaks.

The public outcry continued for almost two hours. Wal-Mart lawyers wouldn't budge.

Our take? No tax breaks. Wal-Mart has a long pattern of building on land and then proclaiming it contaminated, and going for tax breaks. The problem is the land, if indeed contaminated, often gets just a "cover-up" job. So Wal-Mart gets the money but doesn't fix the problem. Also ** very important ** is that though a new Sam's Club will mean 100+ jobs, these are all extremely low-paying and the next effect on the job front is negative because of all the jobs lost from the small businesses Sam's Club would potentially destroy.

The issue goes up to a vote in City Council, 9 a.m. June 7, at City Hall.Let's pack the room again and make sure our elected officials know how we stand, so they can vote accordingly.

We also strongly encourage residents to contact their city officials before then. If you want to join us in City Hall, please email us at events@localshops1.com.

 

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