Huffpost New York

Walmart Protest At City Council: Fervor, But Few Facts (VIDEO)

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Sometimes you feel something so strongly that you just can't explain it.

The New York City Council held a public hearing Thursday about the possibility that giant retailer Walmart might be setting up shop in Brooklyn.

Hundreds of union members, local leaders, small business owners, and New York City residents stood in the cold on the steps of City Hall to voice their opinions about the proposed Walmart.

Nobody stood on neutral ground.

The Huffington Post heard from both sides and found that the crowds gave passionate arguments but faltered when it came to providing specifics.

Those in favor of the giant retailer talked about how many jobs Walmart would create for the community and how much money it would save New York's families every year.

Those in opposition cited the endangerment of small businesses in the communities where Walmart moves, and the company's low employee wages and ungenerous benefits.



The pros: A recent poll commissioned by Walmart found that 62% of small businesses in New York City favor bringing a Walmart to town. And according to Walmart CEO of US business Bill Simon, New Yorkers spent nearly $200 million at Walmart stores outside the city last year, which means the state is already losing tons of money. As for job creation, in 2009 138,000 Walmart employees who were earning an hourly wage got promotions. Plus, a typical store manager at Walmart apparently earns more than $130,000 a year.

The cons: According to the Long Island consulting firm Gotham Government Relations, a whopping 73% of small business owners in New York City oppose allowing a Walmart in one of the five boroughs. A report by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (who worked together with Hunter College) found that by forcing out small businesses, Walmart destroys three jobs for every two that it creates. Add that to a recent report by that showed how Walmart workers earn sub-poverty wages (even though raising their salaries would barely affect consumer cost), the gender wage gap, and the fact that Walmart is heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, and you can see why people are upset.

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