The trend of victories for local community groups seems to have continued into this week. Walmart announced that the company will delay construction on five of the six proposed stores in the District of Columbia.
Walmart has only received building permits for one of its six proposed stores. This store is scheduled to open by the end of 2013. Five other stores (some of which were scheduled to open by the end of 2012) now have no scheduled open dates.
According to the Washington Post, resistance from local activists has been one of the major factors in delaying construction.
This news comes as a major victory for Living Wages, Healthy Communities (a DC coalition of grassroots-based organizations, pastors, workers, environmentalists, parents, students and community members). The coalition released the following statement under their Respect DC campaign:
Walmart’s announcement that it will delay the opening of five of six planned stores in the District of Columbia is further proof that the company has not won over city residents. Our coalition talks to community members every day, and they express concerns and reservations about Walmart opening stores without signing a legally binding Community Benefits Agreement, or CBA.
As city residents ourselves, we worry about Walmart’s potential impact on existing small businesses. We are asking the company to commit in writing to support local small business and hire local residents at a living wage.
Walmart would not be altering its original timeline if company executives did not believe it needed more time to convince District residents that low-wage poverty jobs that can force workers to rely on public assistance are what D.C. needs.
While Walmart pointed to a number of factors as delaying construction, the Washington Post quoted company spokesman Steven Restivo as saying, “While construction time lines are fluid and driven mostly by the developer, we’re using the extra time to further engage with the neighborhoods that surround our stores and build even more support for Walmart.”