City Councilman Charles Barron argued almost nose to nose with a supporter of Walmart in East New York outside a community meeting on Atlantic Avenue.
The giant chain store has been quietly courting community groups seeking backing for a first Walmart site in New York City. East New York’s high unemployment and poverty has Walmart reportedly considering a store at the Gateway Mall in nearby Starrett City.
At issue: Will Walmart’s low prices and all-encompassing products from produce to televisions to clothing and jewelry knock out all kinds of local stores while blocking union membership?
Barron said that for every two jobs Walmart brings, communities lose three.
But Steven Restivo, of Walmart Community Affairs, said that the company’s wages and benefits are as good as or better than any other.
A Quinnipiac University poll found nearly two-thirds of New York voters say Walmart should be allowed to set up a store inside the city.
“We need jobs, and Walmart has jobs,” said Rev. Johnny Youngblood of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church.
Some activists want Walmart to conduct open meetings where opponents speak unlike Thursday’s community meeting where the retailer let in only supporters and neutral community members.