New York City Says No to Wal-Mart, Unions Want Boost

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn gave a rousing speech in support of labor unions this morning during a panel on workers rights. Quinn made it clear that “there is never going to be a Wal-Mart in the City of New York as long as there is no union,” she said of the big box store that doesn’t have unionized workers.

Quinn’s declaration was part of a succession of speakers at Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.’s 12th Annual Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit held in New York City.

Residents of the New York’s five boroughs can stop holding their breath for the megastore. The ultra low price one-stop shop has long been a documented transgressor of laborer rights. On Dec. 24 the company agreed to pay a staggering $640 million to settle the majority of 76 suits alleging the company habitually underpaid its employees.

It’s been reported that store managers were told to report any attempts by workers to organize by calling Wal-Mart’s Union Hotline at headquarters, says Human Rights Watch. The company responded by sending out its Labor Relations Team almost immediately to squash the organizing effort.

“They are a company that offers low prices at the expense of workers,” Quinn said.

In light of an increasingly globalizing society and the global economic crisis speakers warned that laborers rights should not diminish.

“We cannot leave it up to the White House to speak for workers,” said Roger Touissant, president of the Transit Workers Union Local 100. Unions have come under greater watch as U.S. automakers seek a government bailout to stay afloat. For years automakers have sought to restructure labor agreements, which have been viewed as putting companies at a disadvantage compared to foreign competitors because of costly healthcare and pension plans.

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