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Jon Weissman: Proud of Holyoke stance against Walmart

To the editor:

Sam Walton wrote in “Made in America,” that “If some community, for whatever reason, doesn’t want us to go in there, we’re not going to go in and create a fuss.” What he failed to say is that they won’t tell you that that’s why they’re leaving.

They’ll say it’s due to “environmental concerns.” Well, in Holyoke, as one activist said, there really were environmental concerns — as in hostile environment.

It was an environment of the abutters and their neighbors and Holyoke civic leaders and businessfolk and union members and religious leaders; city councilors and planners and the mayor and his leading election opponent; regional working-class organizations like Western Mass. Jobs with Justice and the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council.

I was especially impressed that this was not a NIMBY opposition and it was not just opposition to lower property values and shuttered competitors. It was an economic development opposition with alternatives uses for the property itself and alternatives to Walmart low-road economics. It called Walmart out for aggressive anti-worker behavior that anchors cities like Holyoke in poverty.

With $17 billion a year in profits, Walmart can pay enough to support the families of its 1.3 million employees; allow its workers to have a voice at work; design projects to fit in with, not undermine, neighborhoods and city planning; and pay its share of taxes, not suck up tax subsidies.

Jon Weissman


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