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Mayor Defends Walmart's $5M Donation to Create Summer Jobs

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

WNYC
Michelle Gilliard (left), Senior Director for the Walmart Foundation, at Tuesday's announcement with elected officials (Richard Yeh/WNYC)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended Walmart against criticism that the big box store's $5 million donation to help create jobs was more of a PR ploy than a philanthropic gesture.

"Walmart's a good corporate citizen," Bloomberg said Tuesday in Brownsville, Brooklyn, when asked about the intent behind the donation. "I don't see how you do your company's philanthropy without saying that it's connected to everything. Everything's always connected."

Bloomberg announced that the chain pledged $5 million to create summer jobs for young New Yorkers on Tuesday, saying the money would restore as many as 3,400 of the 11,000 total minimum-wage jobs the city was forced to slash from its Summer Youth Employment Program due to loss of state and federal aid.

Walmart has drawn the ire of many critics who do not want the big box store moving into the five boroughs.

But Councilman Charles Barron, an outspoken critic of Walmart's labor practices who represents parts of Brooklyn where the chain had been reportedly eyeing possible locations, called the grant a "little pittance" that amounts to a "cheap hustle" for the retailer to enter the New York market.

"Pay a living wage, $12 and up, allow workers to unionize, pay decent health care, pay pension, use local distributors, and you're welcomed," Barron said.

Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo said the retailer continues to look for locations across the five boroughs, and that it hasn't signed any leases in the city.

Whether Walmart will decide to open a New York store, and whether such a move will require legislative approval, remain to be seen. Bloomberg insists that no preferential treatment will be afforded to the retail giant.

"We're not going to treat Walmart special, but we’re not going to discriminate against them or any other company that wants to come here," Bloomberg said.

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Comments [4]

Terry B from Windsor, ON

Once again the naysayers are so quick to criticize a generous contribution. Question: Who else is stepping up with a similar or even partial contribution to this at a time when jobs, especially summer jobs for students are few and far between? Is Walmart the perfect corporate citizen, probably not, but they are doing something, a lot more than others. And by the way, take a look around at all the corporate dollars a universities, hospitals, museums etc; the corporate dollars come with marketing presence...get over it. YOU don't want to pay higher taxes or make charitable contributions to support JOBS for YOUTH but you are quick to complain about this program. Get over it

Jul. 08 2011 04:27 PM
Compton from NYC

C'mon Sophie, this a cheap PR campaign for Walmart. They do not have good intentions towards our youth. If they did, they would not BUY a Bloomberg.

If anyone had good intentions towards our youth, they teach skills and making education come to life (showing its value), NOT ask them to stand around "bored" waiting to stock shelves. Why not apprentice at a dairy or raise crops at the community garden and sell them at the farmer's market. Or work for the construction company that will demolish a lonely field that will make way for Walmart next year?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/reverend-billy/field-of-change_b_838980.html

INVEST in our future, not CHINA's future.

Jul. 07 2011 01:25 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

For those desperate for work. For those who have been out of work for a long time, getting a job at Walmart can be the difference between keeping a roof over your head or living in the streets. It's a no-brainer, push comes to shove you'll take the job that helps your family squeak by...even if it's at Walmart.

And yes, I recognize these are summer jobs, but many young adults help with the family household bills, every bit helps.

Jul. 06 2011 08:41 AM
Gary T

Across the country Walmart exploits their workers and fights every effort to Unionize.So they hold out a carrot and expect NYC to welcome them, BS.Agree in writing Councilman Barron's proposal and then try again.

Jul. 06 2011 01:15 AM

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