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A coalition of City Council members, city officials and activists will gather on the steps of City Hall this morning to speak out against Wal-Mart's labor practices and continue a longstanding campaign to keep the retail giant out of the city.

Public Advocate Letitia James, Councilmen Brad Lander and Carlos Menchaca and activists from Wal-Mart-Free NYC will release a report asserting that even though Wal-Mart has yet to open a store in the city, its policies have influenced how low-wage workers fare here.

“One-and-a-quarter million workers, or 37 percent of all wage-earners in New York City are paid less than $15 an hour, an amount that is considered low-wage,” the report says. “The Wal-Mart business model has impoverished New York’s low-wage workers. If Wal-Mart changes its practices, other retailers will follow suit and that domino effect would help improve the lives of millions of New Yorkers.”

Today's event is part of a day of coordinated protests against Wal-Mart and its owners, the Walton family. In addition to releasing the report, the group will march to a local McDonalds, a Zara clothing store, and then to 515 Park Avenue, where Alice Walton, heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune, recently purchased a condo in Manhattan.

Maritiza Silva-Farrell, a low-wage organizer participating in today's rally, said the report “will be connecting the dots about how Wal-Mart’s model has been implemented in our city in terms of low wage jobs.”

Citing the report, Silva-Farrell highlighted the increase of part-time work in the city which sometimes comes with erratic scheduling and lack of promotion opportunities.

Kory Lundberg, a spokesman for Wal-Mart dismissed the report’s accusations as “silly.”

In a statement, Lundberg said “Wal-Mart doesn’t have any locations in New York City. Perhaps that’s the reason why the workers this group is talking about don't have access to career advancement or competitive wages or quarterly bonuses, or their schedules three weeks in advance. If they worked at Wal-Mart they would.”

Todays planned rally is also part of an ongoing campaign to keep Wal-Mart out of the city and a larger push to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.


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