Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Silk Purses and Sow's Ears: Mama Mia Comes to Broadway

In yesterday’s Sun, Daniela Gerson interviewed Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mia Masten (registration required). Clearly, the Bentonville crowd has hired an attractive and articulate woman in their effort to turn Fun City into Spin City. We particularly liked the comment that workers would be able to form a union “If they want to, they have the option to do that. ... But at this point our associates don't want a union.”

Which associates is Mia talking about? All of those New Yorkers who have yet to be hired but who she’s certain will adopt the same anti-union ethos that the company espouses? The real question Gerson should have posed is will Wal-Mart allow unfettered union access to its employees and pledge to do nothing to impede labor’s organizing efforts? Then again, why ask a question when the answer is self-evident.

The other spinsanity involved Masten’s mea culpa on low pay and benefits: “Keep in mind, this is retail.” Well, we’ll keep it in mind when you explain just how Wal-Mart employees have become the most welfare-dependent (disproportionately so) workforce in the country.

Wal-Mart is Looking Everywhere

As we have constantly reminded business and community leaders all over the city, Wal-Mart is, in Masten words, “Looking at all five boroughs at this time.” The fight in Staten Island is part of a much larger and more comprehensive battle that is definitely citywide in scope. In this battle there is no community that is immune from the potential danger Wal-Mart presents to an area.

62% of New Yorkers Want Wal-Mart?

The Wal-Mart poll, sort of like the old vanity press, somehow found that 62% of New Yorkers do want Wal-Mart. The missing ingredient here, aside from non-biased polling, is how New Yorkers will feel about that Wal-Mart means to their neighborhood should a location be designated nearby. In New York City, it’s never only about the store itself, but, of course, location, location, location.