When word leaked out late last year that Walmart was eyeing a piece of the prime Springfield Avenue Marketplace project in Newark, N.J., more than 50 local community, faith, labor and other groups said the last thing Newark needed was a Walmart that kills local small businesses, replaces those jobs with low-paid part-time work and lowers community standards.
The Walmart-Free Newark campaign mobilized local residents, business and lawmakers. That community action—organized by Working Families United for New Jersey—paid off with the recent announcement that regional and working family-friendly ShopRite—not Walmart—will take that prime Marketplace space. The group’s chair, Charles Hall Jr., says:
The determination of the Newark community was critical to defeating Walmart’s plans to build a store in their city and demonstrates the extraordinary strength of community solidarity. Not only were 50 local community groups able to overcome the world’s largest retailer, but, because of their efforts, Newark can now look forward to welcoming a family-friendly ShopRite to the community.
ShopRite, says Hall, will be “built, staffed and operated union and uplift the community by creating family-sustaining middle-class jobs for local residents.”
The coalition, including the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, testified before the Newark Planning Board and Newark City Council and held several demonstrations and rallies to oppose what Hall says is “Walmart’s plans to strong-arm its way into Newark.”
Through a combination of grassroots activism and lawsuits citing Walmart for an inadequate environmental impact study, working families were successful in keeping Walmart out of Newark.