Union Activists Planning Walmart Protest June 30

A county labor coalition is trying to turn out people to a protest

A coalition of labor activists is planning a protest next Saturday of a planned Walmart Neighborhood Market in Los Angele's Chinatown neighborhood.

The protest is being organized by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.  Caroline O'Connor, a spokeswoman for the group, said the protest is not just about the Chinatown location, but about Walmart locations opening up around Los Angeles County.

"This is not just about Chinatown," O'Connor said.  "This is really Walmart's new growth plan, to move into urban locations where they have been so far kept out, moving in with a small-scale model."

O'Connor said her group has heard the news this week that Walmart is also .  She noted that there are several other locations where markets are opening and said her group believes Walmart plans to open at many locations in the county.

She said her group's main concerns are that Walmart pays its workers less than other retail stores, forcing down wages at other locations.  She noted that Ralph's, Von's and Albertson's, three of Southern Califonia's major grocery stores, have unionized employees.

The coalition's goal is to delay or keep Walmart from opening locations in the county, or to force them to adopt better labor practices, according to O'Connor.

A Walmart spokesperson did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

According to the group's press release, the protest will be attended by Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte, who is running in the new congressional district that includes Altadena.

The group hopes to bring out 10,000 people.  More information about the rally can be found here.


margaret bridwell June 23, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Mmmm, Are they going to organize a protest at Super King while they're here since they're not union?
Laura Monteros June 23, 2012 at 04:18 PM
The thing is, it IS about Chinatown. It's about a vibrant community that has fallen into disrepair and fragmentation, and is trying to come back, and WalMart is like a steam shovel digging the grave. There are similarities to Altadena, but it really isn't about jobs per se. It's about what we want in our community, and, oh yes, about exploitation of workers (union or not) and crushing of local businesses.
pusddad June 23, 2012 at 06:01 PM
As someone who passes through Chinatown every day for work, I question whether the locals will find a Walmart to be such a bad thing. There is a high population density and no local supermarket. It is going in on Sunset which has new huge apartment complexes. A supermarket will enable people to do their shopping without getting into their cars. The local economy seems based on tourism. I am sure most merchants will be unaffected. Most of the protests don't seem to come from those who live there.
altadena_local June 23, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Protest? Sure. Lets not fill a vacant building and make some tax revenue. Lets not hire 70 people in an area that definitely needs jobs. Lets not offer cheaper groceries in an area with a high percentage of low income residents. Why? Because the unions don't have a place in the job market? Don't fool yourself into thinking the unions are for the working class because this is proof that all they care about is collecting their union dues. Where is the constuctive alternative? Where is the sainted business that would make this investment? The unions have nothing to offer in that directon.
terry Morris June 23, 2012 at 08:17 PM
uh oh...
Lisa Hastings June 23, 2012 at 08:45 PM
@ pusddad. There are two supermarkets in Chinatown and a Ralphs downtown. You must be driving too fast to notice.
Lori A. Webster June 23, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Mostly because a large segment of Chinatown's population doesn't read or speak English, pusddad. This was explained by the young Chinese gentleman from Chinatown on the panel at the discussion the other night at All Saints Church, which I attended. All notices regarding WalMart (what there was) were printed in English, which why, the young gentleman explained, there hasn't been a larger outcry. But don't believe that the locals want something like Walmart. There in an undertaking right now for local, Chinese speaking people going door-to-door to get the word out. There are food & produce markets in Chinatown (I also pass through there almost daily) but they're independently owned and have been in the community for decades. Like Al Hoa, on Hill - I see people coming in and out of there all the time, on foot. Have you noticed that there are no corporate stores in Chinatown, save for maybe a fast food place or two? It's very similar to Altadena in that respect, with a small population of people who WalMart feels they can bully into buying their propaganda of a "better community".
Lori A. Webster June 23, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I've got a better idea, altadena_local. How about patronizing your local independent retailers so they can get stronger and hire more local people? That way, more local dollars will actually stay in your community to better it, not be sent off to Betonville, AK.
pusddad June 23, 2012 at 09:24 PM
what are the chinatown supermarkets?
pusddad June 23, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Lisa: what are the chinatown supermarkets?
pusddad June 24, 2012 at 12:01 AM
I read the Chinatown Camber of Commerce backs the deal. This proposed neighborood market is really on the fringes of chinatown up the hill on cesar chavez. The only place selling food nearby is a liquor store and burger king. It will occupy a space that has been unused since it was built 10 years ago, and its across the street from a huge new apartment complex. If the LA region is going to get people back to living downtown, it has to provide them with a place to conveniently buy groceries. Lisa, I have been parking in chinatown since 1999. Where are the 2 supermarkets?
Lori A. Webster June 24, 2012 at 01:08 AM
In answer to pusddad - the new WalMart in Chinatown is going in beneath a high-rise home for the elderly.in the area you mentioned. And yes, their Chamber of Commerce did approve the deal. Not surprising in this era of backroom deals, which WalMart is famous for.
pusddad June 24, 2012 at 06:10 AM
Did you check with the elderly residents how they feel about having groceries and a pharmacy so close by? I forgot to mention the subway below the building as well.
Lisa Hastings June 24, 2012 at 06:14 AM
PUSD dad, you make it sound like there is nothing in Chinatown or downtown. This is not true. There are many places to buy food in Chinatown: Wing Hop Fung on Broadway, Far East Supermarket on New High, Duc Hiep on Broadway, Ai Hoa on Hill, G & G on New High, Namhoa on Broadway, and many others! Also, Little Tokyo has a few supermarkets, too, including Marukai and Nijiya, and even a hardware store that sells vegetable plants. Downtown has the Grand Central Market, the Old Bank District Market, and Ralphs. Also, a Target with a grocery/food section is set to open soon Downtown.
Chris June 24, 2012 at 03:00 PM
$20 says this Walmart grocer will open and won't give a rat's ass about 20 or so keyboard cowboy activists talking about a protest. I'm never going there but Walmart sure as hell has their target audience and I'm sure they're not reading blogs nor commenting on blogs.
pusddad June 24, 2012 at 03:41 PM
thanks. I'll give them a try. They seem to be geographically separate from 707 W. Cesar Chavez. Its a big walk up the hill from the heart of Chinatown. Should the seniors at 707 and the residents in the huge aprtment complexes across the street be expected to shop only down the hill in the mom and pop joints? What if a local wants to buy something other than the enthic food they specialize in? Little Tokyo? This area, like most of downtown, needs pedestrian friendly food shopping. Socially conscious All Saints approved businesses have had ten years to step in and fill the void at that location. Are empty space and downtown driving better alternatives to the people that live there than a walmart grocery store?
pusddad June 24, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Target at 7th and Fig? From chinatown? When I go check out the markets you list, should I assume they are all in compliance with wage, hour, immigration and tax laws?
Lisa Hastings June 24, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Oh no, not at all! In fact, some of the working conditions are probably worse!
pusddad June 24, 2012 at 05:51 PM
this is not a simple issue. it makes for good discussion. its too bad no other market took that spot, but one is badly needed there.
Lisa Hastings June 24, 2012 at 05:59 PM
The solution to this problem is just don't shop at Walmart. Grow your own vegetables, shop the farmers markets, cut down on all the unhealthy junk food and other useless items these big corporate companies sell. The problem is people believe they are too busy or they are too lazy to grow their own food or even prepare their own food or give up their expensive addictions to unnecessary consumer goods and prepackaged processed food. This is the culture that brings Walmart, Jack in the Box, McDonalds, liquor stores, and even Ralphs and Vons to town. Really, a family could survive as well as save a ton of money with their own small vegetable garden (and chickens and goats if they are so inclined), a local farmers market, and a few staples from a food co-op or small grocery store. We do not need Walmart.
pusddad June 24, 2012 at 11:19 PM
that's great if you don't live someplace as congested as 707 cesar chavez in an apartment or senior housing. your choices there are burger king or subway and a liquor store unless you get in a car or bus. these neighborhood markets are known for good locally grown produce at good prices.
Michael O'Neal-Petterson June 25, 2012 at 03:26 PM
As much as I dislike Wal*Mart, it has nothing to do with their anti-union stance. Just ask Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons how well their unions are working out for their markets, with their triennial strikes. Trader Joe's runs a vibrant, helpful workforce without the intrusion of unions. Unions exist for one reason: to finance the union and those who run it. Wal*Mart is hate-able for their treatment of workers, but a union wouldn't help things one bit.
Lisa Hastings June 25, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Yes, corruption exists in unions and even more corruption is found in corporations. However, a study of U.S. History will reveal that we enjoy an eight hour day and many other benefits because of unions. For example, Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons employees have health insurance because of unions. Grocery workers have to fight to keep those benefits each time and are willing to strike to do so. Otherwise, Vons Ralphs and Albertsons would become like Walmart. Unions have raised working standards so that grocers like Trader Joes must offer health insurance and decent wages in order to remain competitive as an employer and avoid unionization. Walmart wants to drive it all into the ground and go back to the labor standards of the 18th Century - child labor, pittance wages, long workweeks, and hazardous working conditions. Read up on labor history---it's all there.
pasadenanative February 01, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know the history of how the unions helped establish working hours and benefits....But since the 1970's they have become nothing but over-bloated companies actually doing very little for their members except push paper, take 3 hour lunches, taking advantage of, and eating high off the dues of the members. Isn't Hostess enough of an eye opener for you? A Union that would rather run a company into bankruptcy and close because of their greed, rather than showing some skills in compromising, so at least people can keep their jobs, and not lose them. Just remember, the more greedy they get, the more they require outrageous pay and benefit packages, the more they can charge for dues, which keeps them awash in spending your dues on their lavish lifestyles! It will be a long time coming until people wake up that Union REFORM and RESTRUCTURING is needed just as much as any other industry.
Ivan G February 01, 2013 at 11:35 PM
The "Chinatown" Walmart is only nominally in Chinatown. It is at the corner of Sunset and Grand, across the street from a Burger King. There is nothing that looks even vaguely Asian within two blocks. It is on the ground floor of senior-citizen housing, and will provide a place for seniors to buy groceries.
Ivan G February 01, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Solution to what problem? Not all of us think it is a problem and, according to the LA Times, the senior who live in the apartments downtown think that the solution IS Walmart. And it should be pointed out that your "solution" of growing your own would put even more people out of work if everyone adopted it. There are many things in Altadena that we don't "need." But need is not the applicable standard for establishing a business. What you are afraid of is that Walmart will prove popular.
Ivan G February 01, 2013 at 11:44 PM
And fewer dollars (local or otherwise) will stay in the pockets of Altadenans. Notably, the Walmart is going in where more low-income people live. Why should they be forced to pay higher prices?
Ivan G February 01, 2013 at 11:52 PM
I note that your answer in effect admits that there are no supermarkets in Chinatown, which is correct. Even the small markets you mention are a several block walk in hilly terrain. Don't you recognize that many seniors don't drive, and cannot walk long distances? But you want to sacrifice them so that healthy, middle class union members make more money.
Ivan G February 02, 2013 at 12:18 AM
Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons are all losing market share because their costs are too high.
pasadenanative February 02, 2013 at 12:48 AM
You are So Right!


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