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By Emily Witt

July 19, 2011


…The day after the boisterous opening of Duane Reade’s Wall Street megashopping emporium, a rally was taking place a few blocks away from the new store. New York state assemblywoman Inez Barron and union leader Rich Whalen stood outside the New York State comptroller’s office on Maiden Lane to announce their request for an audit of a controversial land deal: the purchase by the Related Group of what is the rumored future site of a Walmart in East New York. Protesters wearing “Wal-Mart Sucks” buttons mingled with union members and representatives of the Living Wage NYC campaign.

The difference, said City Councilman Charles Barron of East New York after the rally, is that when Duane Reade moves into a neighborhood, it’s “not going to create any competition, it’s not going to create any loss of jobs. It’s not big enough. It’s not powerful enough; they don’t have it like that.” It’s also not cheap enough.

Walmart, he went on to say, deals with sweat shops, hires only part-time workers and pays between $7.53 and $8.53 an hour. It also does not use local distributors. “Walmart is a rotating plantation looking for slaves to pay some low wages and continue to exploit communities to maximize its profits,” said Mr. Barron…

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