By Adrianne Pasquarelli
April 24, 2012
Some call for City Council hearings to probe the retailers' New York City business practices, including a full disclosure of the company's philanthropic spending here.
The pressure is mounting on Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to abandon its long-running plans to enter the New York City market. In the wake of the weekend's revelations of alleged bribery and cover-up in the retail giant's Mexican operations, local advocacy groups here who have opposed Wal-Mart's Big Apple ambitions for years are pressing their advantage, and redoubling their efforts.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; the city's public advocate, Bill de Blasio; and Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store union, all issued statements Monday criticizing Wal-Mart. On Tuesday afternoon, they, along with former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson and dozens of others, plan to throw their bodies behind the effort by attending a rally at City Hall. Demonstrators will call on the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer to give up its campaign for a New York City store.
“More and more New Yorkers are growing skeptical of Wal-Mart's plans and promises for our city—and for good reason,” said Matt Ryan, executive director at the Alliance for a Greater New York, an anti-Wal-Mart group and a key organizer of Tuesday's rally. “Armed with the latest news about Walmart de Mexico's illegal practices, the city must investigate Wal-Mart's recent dealings with public officials and developers in its bid to move to New York City.”
Yet Wal-Mart has reiterated that its plans for the Big Apple remain undeterred.
“Our track record as a good corporate citizen is well known and in large cities like New York, residents continue to choose to shop and work at Wal-Mart,” said Steve Restivo, Wal-Mart's senior director of community affairs, noting the company's involvement with issues like sustainability and nutrition. “As a result, we continue to evaluate opportunities here to make access to our stores more convenient for customers.”
Anti-Wal-Mart activists are also asking for City Council hearings to investigate Wal-Mart's New York City business practices, including a full disclosure of the company's philanthropic spending here. They're also asking for an investigation into the practices of the retailer's New York-based board members Michele Burns and Christopher Williams. Both Ms. Burns and Mr. Williams served on Wal-Mart's audit committee in 2005 and 2006, the same years the alleged bribes took place. Neither immediately returned calls requesting comment.
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