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The Arkansas-based retailer is facing mounting oppositon to its plans to expand into New York.

By Kris Alingod

April 27, 2011

Protesters greeted Wal-Mart chief executive Mike Duke on Wednesday in New York, where he is looking to open stores.

Members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, New York Jobs with Justice and several other groups gathered outside Bryant Park Grill, where Duke addressed a forum hosted by the Wall Street Journal.

The demonstrators assailed Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer and biggest private employer, for its "treatment of workers, business practices" and made clear the company wasn't welcome in the city.

With yellow face masks and a marching band, they issued their warning as Duke told business executives that Wal-Mart has seen consumer spending fall every end of the month before paychecks are released.

The Arkansas-based retailer is facing mounting oppositon to its plans to expand into New York.

Early this year, City Council members Robert Jackson, Letitia James and Jumaane Williams endorsed Wal-Mart Free NYC, which was also part of Wednesday's rally. They warned that opening a Wal-Mart in Brooklyn would destroy homegrown stores and local jobs.

According to Williams, Wal-Mart kills three jobs for every two the company creates. "The jobs they ‘create’ pay, on average, 18 percent less than the jobs they destroy. My community deserves jobs with livable wages," he said.

Duke did not issue a statement addressing the rally. A spokesman for Wal-Mart told Crain's New York the demonstration was a "publicity stunt" without "substance and facts."

Apart from the issue of wages, a decade-old lawsuit accusing the company of discriminating against female employees is being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wal-Mart believes the workers are suing for different sets of individual circumstances. It is fighting to keep plaintiffs in the case, the nation's largest civil rights lawsuit, from being recognized as part of a class that includes every woman nationwide employed over the decade in 3,400 stores.

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