Top L. A. Mayoral Candidates Pledge Not to Take Walmart Money

Top L. A. Mayoral Candidates Pledge

Not to Take Walmart Money

Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel Announce Support for Workers and the

Massive June 30 March to Stop the Walmartization of L.A.

LOS ANGELES – Just two days before the largest rally ever held to protest Walmart’s business practices, leading Los Angeles mayoral candidates City Councilmember Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel announced they will not take money from Walmart.

The declarations by Garcetti and Greuel come amid rapidly growing attention on working conditions for Walmart associates and warehouse workers who move Walmart goods in Southern California. Additionally, they urged other elected officials to refuse Walmart donations and to return any contributions they have received from the retail giant.

“For far too long corporations like Wal-Mart have been getting special treatment, while middle-class families have been struggling in this tough economy and bearing the brunt of the tax burden. Let’s join together June 30 and send a message that our city needs responsible development that builds our middle class and encourages the growth of a thriving small business sector,” said Greuel.

“Los Angeles loses if we run a race to the bottom in terms of wages and working conditions,” Garcetti said. “Our economy needs good middle class jobs to get back on track, and that’s what we should be working toward.”

Both Garcetti and Greuel also endorsed the massive rally and march Saturday, June 30, which begins at Los Angeles State Historic Park at 10 a.m. and will proceed through the heart of Chinatown to the site of Walmart’s controversial proposed grocery store. As many as 10,000 people are expected to participate.

Concerns about Walmart’s aggressive expansion plans in Los Angeles including the proposed Chinatown location – whose status is in limbo – and proposed stores in Panorama City and Altadena are compounded by allegations the corporation engaged in widespread bribery in Mexico and a scathing new report that details abuses in warehouses contracted by Walmart in the Inland Empire. Walmart associates have formed their own organization, OUR Walmart, to win respect and stop the corporation’s relentless cost-cutting for which workers bear the majority of the burden.

Walmart’s reputation was further tarnished earlier this month after an employee of Mercury Public Relations, the L.A. PR firm hired by Walmart, was caught spying on low-wage warehouse workers. The employee was subsequently fired by Mercury, which in turn had its contract severed by Walmart.

“Walmart has its eye on Los Angeles and it is trying to expand rapidly in our city,” said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “If Walmart has its way it will expand with disregard for our environment, our local character and businesses, and for living wages with benefits for its associates.”

In May, Durazo and other leaders called on all Los Angeles County elected officials to give back Walmart money and reject future contributions. “It doesn’t take campaign finance reform to prevent Walmart from wrapping its tentacles around our political system in L.A. County,” the letter stated. “Elected officials and officeholders can simply return Walmart’s campaign contributions.”

U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu, who pledged never to take Walmart money earlier this month, put it this way:  “We as elected officials need to make it crystal clear that we will not stand for this attack on our workers and our neighborhoods,” said Chu. “And what better way to do that than for us…to turn down Walmart’s money?”

If Walmart is to achieve its national average market share of 21 percent in Los Angeles County, it will have to build 212 stores across L.A. County, according to projections by the L.A. Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). The economic impact of opening 212 Walmart retail stores in Los Angeles County would result in an estimated loss of 8,744 retail jobs, a loss of more than $621 million in annual wages for retailer workers whose jobs remained, and an increase of 9,400 Walmart workers reliant on Medi-Cal for health care.