RWDSU International
Local 108 Member Awarded Scholarship
March 20, 2013

Congratulations to Local 108 member & Littman’s Jewelers employee Wendy Tretheway from Strasburg, PA.  Wendy was recently awarded a Child Care Scholarship on behalf of the UFCW Women’s Network. Local 108 Vice President Kathy Campbell was on hand to present the award. Congratulations Wendy!

Citizen Groups to Protest Walmart Coming to Newark; Mega Retailer Says it Has No Plans for City Store
March 20, 2013
Published December 3, 2013 in the Star Ledger
By Eunice Lee

Newark-Several citizen groups are slated to gather outside city hall today to protest what they believe is a Walmart proposed to open in Newark's Central Ward.

However a spokesman for the retailer said Walmart has no current plans to open a new store in Newark.

"We just don't have any projects at this point," spokesman Bill Wertz said today. "We are looking, absolutely. We would like to be in Newark."

More than 10 community groups will gather on the hall's steps today to voice their opposition to the big-box retailer's low wages and potential to drive local mom-and-pop shops out of business, organizers say.

The site in question is a vacant lot on Springfield Avenue between Jones and Prince streets, according to protest organizers. Newark city officials were not immediately available for comment.

"What we don't want to see is our community moving backwards," Alex Gomez, community outreach coordinator for Working Families United for New Jersey, said of Walmart's plans to open in the state's largest city. The Trenton-based group is organizing today's rally which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. "It might be a job but it's not a livable job," he said.

New Jersey NAACP President James Harris is scheduled to join Working Families United in addition to union leaders and local clergy. West Ward Councilman Ron Rice, whose name was circulated on the list of rally attendees, said he was unsure whether he'd be at the rally but said he supported giving the groups a chance to speak out.

Rice said he's personally opposed to Walmart coming to Newark but acknowledged the need for jobs and development in the city.

'We have a chronic need for jobs in Newark and I'm no fool about that," he said. "It's a tough choice."

The project's developer is the Illinois-based Tucker Development, the same group that opened a brand new Courtyard Marriott on Broad Street in September.

Lawrence Hamm, chairman for the People's Organization for Progress, said his main concern is Walmart's anti-union stance.

"If Walmart could find a way to be a good corporate neighbor/' he said, "then I'm sure people would have a different attitude about it but for the moment, that's the main reason for our opposition."

Responding in an email to Hamm's, Walmart spokesman Wertz said the company has donated nearly $3 million over the last four years to New Jersey organizations as part of its "State Giving Program." He added that Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker "have publicly thanked Walmart for all it did to help state residents during Hurricane Sandy."

Protesters Say No to Walmart in Newark
March 20, 2013
Published in the Newark Patch December 3, 2013
By Paul Milo

More than 100 people rallied on the steps of city hall Monday to protest the purported construction of a Walmart along Springfield Avenue, echoing charges heard elsewhere that the retail giant does not provide a decent living for its employees and has a ruinous effect on local economies.

Company spokespeople, however, while saying there are no "announced plans" to build its first store in Newark, also added that the world's largest retailer would be a good fit for the city and that its wages are in line with or exceed those at other major store chains.

The rally was held shortly before a meeting of the city planning board, whose agenda included a hearing on a development proposal for a vacant lot at Springfield Avenue and Jones Street submited by Tucker Development Corp., which has offices in Chicago and New Jersey. That application calls for a shopping center with tens of thousands of square feet of retail space.

Tucker, however, asked the planning board to delay the hearing by one week, to Dec. 10. The planning board granted the request as protesters who had wandered into city hall to hear the proceedings looked on.

Opponents said Tucker's involvement clearly indicates that Walmart is eyeing the site. Tucker hasdeveloped properties for other store locations. Alex Gomez, of Working Families United for New Jersey, which organized Monday's rally, said the artist's rendering of the proposal known officially as Springfield Avenue Marketplace even resembles a Walmart, with its signature "big box" design.

Speaking before the crowd assembled on city hall steps, Charles Hall, chair of the orga nization, accused Walmart of trying to get approval for a Newark store by operating "under the radar."

"We got together with a coalition of people to say we don't want Walmart here. I will tell you Walmart is no friend to communities .... we want to speak out to our community when they try to pull the wool over our eyes/, Hall said to an audience that included members of organized labor, the NAACP and other activist groups.

But a company spokesman, William Wertz, denied any knowledge of plans for the site.

"I know we're in contact with city officials for things like Sandy relief, but I'm not aware of any discussion pertaining to this project/' he said.

Speakers Monday accused the retailer of an array of sins. Hall cited studies showing the company kills three jobs for every two jobs it creates. Other speakers said that Walmart pays many workers a wage of just $8 an hour, or about $15,000 a year, less than half the median income for a family of four in Newark. Msgr. John Gilchrist, a Catholic priest and labor activist, said the company destroys mom-andpop businesses and would turn the city's downtown into a ghost town.

"What's happening tonight is very important. It's not just about organiting Walmart, it's about protecting the little people," he said.

In a prepared statement and in response to questions, Wertz, the Walmart spokesman, countered those claims, stating the average hourly full-time wage for a Walmart employee in New Jersey is $12.78 and that many new employees choose to make a career at the company, with 75 percent of store management starting out as hourly associates.

Wertz also said one study cited by Hall, showing that Walmart proved to be a job-killer in Chicago, was "flawed."

Walmart, which has locations in nearby Union and Kearny, is also already popular with Newark shoppers, according to company data. Newarkers spent $45 million at Walmart stores last year.

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