This weekend thousands of California union members, working families and community leaders marched in Los Angeles protesting Walmart’s plan to open a store in the historic Chinatown neighborhood.
Marchers passed through the streets of Chinatown as they made their way from Los Angeles State Historic Park (known as the Cornfield) to the intersection of Broadway and Cesar Chavez Boulevard. Speakers called on city officials to reject Walmart’s proposal for the store.
The San Francisco Labor Council, the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, the Orange County Labor Federation and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council joined the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in the Saturday march.
Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said:
Walmart’s chief product is poverty. Walmart gets rich by keeping its employees poor; however, Walmart workers are organizing for decent wages and affordable benefits. They have the right to dignity and respect and Walmart can afford to do better. Until Walmart stops selling poverty, we don’t want it in Los Angeles.
After the march, the rally gathered underneath the Chinese dragons at the entrance into Chinatown. Grammy winners, singer-songwriters and members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM Local 47) Tom Morello and Ben Harper gave performances in support of efforts to stop Walmart from coming to Los Angeles.
“We don’t want Walmart to destroy Chinatown and unique neighborhoods across L.A. and the United States just to make a few executives in the Walton family richer,” said Tom Morello, guitarist with Rage Against the Machine. Morello sang his popular “Union Song” and what he called the “uncensored version” of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” Ben Harper played “We Can’t End this Way.” Harper, a downtown Los Angeles resident, said Walmart would negatively affect his own community.
Check out Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s Flickr slideshow of the march and rally here.