Walmart's Sustainability Record: Not Good for DC Jobs or the Environment!
Dear District of Columbia Environmental Community:
A Disappointing Start:
Sustainability calls for policies and strategies that meet society's present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Mayor Gray, so far, seems to be trying to do something else.
In July, 2011 Mayor Vincent Gray announced his intention to make DC the greenest, healthiest, and most livable city in the nation. The Mayor mobilized his agencies to move forward with a new Sustainable DC initiative. This sustainability initiative would strive to merge the need to create jobs AND make our nation's capital city more livable.
This Sustainable DC initiative would be implemented in a way that would benefit current residents AND future residents. This is a core principle of sustainability.
Just four months later Mayor Gray made another announcement. He announced that the District would be welcoming with open arms as many as six WalMart stores that would impact many neighborhoods.
With the increase from four to six new stores, many labor, environmental and human service organizations (and other District citizens) continued questioning Mayor Gray's commitment to building a strong local economy and a real sustainability plan. It became even more clear that a WalMart presence in the District, without an aggressive sustainability plan focused on quality jobs and a livable environment, only keeps us from these important goals.
Even with these concerns many of us gave Mayor Gray the benefit of the doubt as he assured District residents he was negotiating with WalMart to create a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), to lock in at least a few community benefits that could be sustained over time for all.
Instead, what the Mayor presented on November 22nd, was Walmart's very own blueprint called the "WalMart Washington, DC Community Partnership Initiative", a non-binding list of WalMart's public pronouncements with arguably zero concessions on their part. What was really sad was that it did not include any substantive environmental commitments beyond following laws already on the books.
Needless to say this is a very disappointing start for Mayor Gray's first term. The fact that the Mayor does not seem to grasp how important it is to harmonize his sustainability initiative with his efforts to bring jobs to the District is disheartening to say the least. This is not the type of leadership District residents were looking for during last year's election.
Rev. Kendrick Curry summed it up:
On December 1st @ noon, at Global Green USA (1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor), join the DC Environmental Network, Institute for Local Self Reliance and others for a special briefing on why WalMart's plan is unsustainable unless the city requires a real Community Benefits Agreement with real input from the people who live here. RSVP for this discussion here!
Our panel will feature:
- Stacy Mitchell, Senior Researcher of the New Rules Project: Stacy will share the real story regarding WalMart's sustainability initiatives. Stacy is also the author of the book, Big Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses. Stacy Mitchell Bio.
- Joslyn Williams, President of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO: Joslyn will discuss how unsustainable WalMart's employment practices are and how District residents will be locked into economic insecurity for many years after our countries economy turns around unless we all work together to come up with a meaningful Community Benefits Agreement. Joslyn Williams Bio.
What it comes down to is for all of us, the citizens of the District of Columbia, to decide what kind of city we want to be. Are we a WalMart city or are we a Sustainable DC. The evidence is clear that we cannot be both.
We can have WalMart in our city and be sustainable but we need to stand up to this very powerful corporation and tell them that they cannot use our countries economic woes to leverage advantageous development terms and that greenwashing will not be allowed in the District of Columbia.
We have lot's of opportunities to achieve our goals:
Hope to see you on November 1st at Noon at Global Green USA!
Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network
The DC Environmental Network has worked hard to promote the Mayor's Sustainable DC initiative. We have held over 15 meetings, forums and other events, some open to the public, with hundreds of DC environmentalists sharing their vision for a sustainable DC. We are hoping the Mayor will come to understand how true sustainability will only come when we utilize the leverage we have to make sure the interests of District residents are taken seriously by corporations that come into our city to make profits.
DC Environmental Network
1907 Park Road NW #B | Washington, DC 20010
Office (202) 518-8782 | Cell (202) 421-7319
The DC Environmental Network, founded in 1996, is working toward a vision of rebuilding Washington, DC's neighborhoods and communities for long-term economic stability - accomplishing this by protecting and restoring the Capital City's urban environment.
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