The first Walmart Express to set up shop in an urban market will open its doors Wednesday on Chicago's South Side. The convenience store format is meant to thwart the rise of competitiors that come in the form of "dollar stores" and is part of the retailer's expansion plans in Chicago.
But union leaders say members of the community -- and Chicago residents at large -- should see the store's opening as an opportunity to make sure that the retail giant keeps its promises. President of Local 881 and UFCW International Vice President Ronald E. Powell released the following statement on the store's opening:
While the first Walmart Express store will be opening this week in Chicago, Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) would like to remind Chicago residents and elected officials that we must remain vigilant in holding this multi-national corporation accountable to the promises and commitments made to gain approval to expand in the Chicago marketplace.
Walmart announced massive expansion plans for Chicago, which include a variety of formats from large supercenters to small convenience markets. In order to get the green light to move forward with their plans, Walmart made a long list of promises regarding wages, business development, local hiring, construction, etc. While Walmart has made many vague assurances, it is important that they are held to their word. Walmart’s well-documented history demonstrates a repeated pattern of broken promises; the company leads the industry in undercutting established standards relating to wages, benefits, and working conditions. We cannot sit back and enable Walmart to go unchecked in Chicago while they erode competitors, then turn their back on workers and residents for the sake of lining their pockets.
Local 881 UFCW will continue to support efforts that keep Walmart and other retailers accountable to consumers and taxpayers. Walmart must refocus attention on the quality and stability of the jobs they offer Chicago residents. Instead of being the leader in the race to the bottom, it is our hope that Walmart does not shy away from transparency, accountability, and ensuring workers have a real voice on the job.
The first Chicago Walmart Express store will be located in the Chatham neighorhood at 83rd St. and Steward Ave.