The Walmart on Antioch’s traffic-impacted Lone Tree Way has received a go ahead from the Antioch Planning Commission to expand the existing 141,499-square-foot store to 175,073 square feet, making it the first Supercenter in the East Bay and an added draw to citizens and non-citizens residing in cities other than Antioch.
Hopefully, opponents will appeal the expansion to council, although, due to anticipated “economic benefits” to the city, I can’t predict the outcome. Even pro-labor supporter Reggie Moore may be tempted aboard this time despite having opposed expansion when he ran for council.
Mr. Moore, a meter reader for PG&E, was at that time president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 444. Moore vehemently criticized Walmart’s late $50,722 campaign donation to Manny Soliz, a former city council member running for re-election. Soliz lost by fewer than 100 votes to Moore, who subsequently acknowledged that half of his $32,000 campaign was financed by union donations.
I find numerous reasons, in addition to the traffic impact on Lone Tree Way, as to why any Walmart expansion should be denied, none of which were addressed in the staff report or by the Planning Commission:
1. Superstores drive out existing retail centers. Raley’s, Safeway and Lucky are already hanging on by a thread as evidenced by the fact that locating grocery outlets farther out in southeast Antioch resulted in the closure of stores such as the Mt. View Market on 10th Street and Lucky on Somersville Road.
2. 80 percent of Walmart suppliers are based in China and 70 percent of the goods on their shelves come from China. In Washington, D.C., Walmart’s PAC uses money and influence to oppose strengthening U.S. port security.
3. The U.S. Department of Labor has filed wage and hour violations against Walmart, which in 2005 paid a $11 million fine for hiring illegal labor; i.e., undocumented immigrants working for a janitorial contract service hired by Walmart in 21 states. In California, Wal-Mart has appealed a $192 million award for not providing employee meal and rest breaks in accordance with California labor law.
4. Walmart is constantly criticized for lack of adequate security measures, being more interested in profits than in customer protection. In hindsight, even the current Walmart should have been required to hire security personnel and have monitored cameras and enhanced lighting in the parking area in order to prevent purse snatching and assaults.
Barbara Zivica, Antioch