Wal-Mart to build on historic land

Paige Nelson, Photo Editor

Paige Nelson, Photo Editor

by Ana Ceballos

San Diego local labor unions gathered early Saturday morning at the Golden Hill Park to demand a meeting with Wal- Mart representatives before new stores of the multinational retailer corporation open, replacing the historic 1.3-acre Sherman Heights site.

Hundreds of demonstrators chanted remarks against the largest retailer in the world, marching from Golden Hill Park to the site of the future Wal-Mart, which will be constructed in the old Farmers Market building.

Banners reading, “Wal-Mart you’re no good. Treat your workers like you should” and “Wal-Mart hurts the 99 percent,” highlighted why the multibillion dollar corporation is not wanted in the community.

“We’ve seen how this company mistreats its employees and how it bulldozes over residents in a community,” Genoveva Aguilar of Casa de Vecinos Organizados said. “We don’t need Wal-Mart to come into our city, bringing poor paying jobs and destroying our cultural history.”

In April, demonstrators went to court, hoping to prevent Wal-Mart from being built in the community, but a judge ruled construction could proceed as planned despite the local pleads.

Wal-Mart Senior Manager of Community Affairs Rachel Wall is quoted in a statement saying, “the majority of residents know we’re not only trying to provide communities with new options for jobs and affordable groceries, but we are also making a positive economic contribution by generating much-needed tax revenue, working with local suppliers and supporting non-profits.”

The main concerns for many of the demonstrators related to the corporation’s low wages and lack of employee benefits were not addressed in Wall’s statement.

The retail giant plans to open a 45,800 square-foot neighborhood market, and hire 65 employees.

Speakers at the rally included San Diego Unified School Board Trustee Richard Barrera and state Assemblyman Ben Hueso. San Diego mayoral candidate Bob Filner was expected as a guest speaker, but did not attend.

Opponents of the big-box retailers, including members Occupy San Diego, The Unified Food and Commercial Workers International Union and the San Diego Green Party also attended.

During the event, petitions for Proposition 32, a ballot prohibiting unions and corporations from automatically deducting money from employee payroll checks for political purposes, were distributed to the crowd.