Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hello, I Must Be Going

Some more commentary has followed the statements by Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott that he's had it with New York City. Errol Louis, writing in this morning's NY Daily News underscores the Walmonster's anti-union policies as a major cause of the company's difficulties in finding a home for its stores in the city: "The opposition to Wal-Mart by organized labor has been understandable, even commendable. The company is notorious for using union-busting tactics..."

Louis, however, goes on yo say that the politicians and labor opponents of Wal-Mart have a "moral obligation" to help low-income New Yorkers to obtain cheaper goods and, especially, fresh fruit and vegetables in neighborhoods that lack good access to them. This is definitely an area where we can all find strong agreement.

We have been arguing all along that the city needs to have a strategy to promote the development of supermarkets in poor neighborhoods. It needs to work with, and this should be a priority of new food czar Ben Thomases, the food industry-business and labor alike-to device a development strategy. As we have pointed out before, Pennsylvania and the Food Trust of Philadelphia is pioneering precisely this kind of innovative development effort. NYC needs to emulate this model.

As Speaker Quinn told the NY Sun this morning, "I think we do want New Yorkers to be able to buy quality goods at low prices." But, as she pointed out, this shouldn't be at the expense of workers who are being exploited. There are many large supermarket chains, and a number of really good independent operators, who are ready to work with the city in the supermarket development effort. Now we need to simply bring all of the interested parties together.