A group of anti-Walmart activists, citing a clearance bin's worth of issues with the company's business practices and efforts to "sneak" a store into a north Boulder shopping center, on Thursday sent a packet of newspaper clippings, letters and position statements to the company's headquarters expressing their displeasure.
About a dozen members of the group, which calls itself the Coalition for Social and Environmental Responsibility, gathered on the east side of the main Boulder post office to publicly voice their concerns and mail their packet to Walmart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.
The retail giant in January confirmed plans to open a grocery-focused Walmart Neighborhood Market store at 3303 30th St., in Boulder's Diagonal Plaza, after months of speculation about the mystery tenant that had filed plans to move into the space without originally putting a name on them.
Construction is under way for the 52,000-square-foot store, which is expected to open later this year, according to Walmart officials.
"We are trying to promote the idea of an open and honest dialogue with Walmart because we have many concerns and objections to the way they do business," said Matt Nicodemus, a coalition organizer and member of the Occupy Boulder general assembly. "The hope is they will decide not to open, but we want them to know, if they open, there will be a concerted effort to get them to close down."
Fellow Occupy Boulder member Ricky Munoz said the coalition is armed with a petition to keep Walmart out of Boulder that bears 7,000 signatures.
Walmart spokeswoman Rachel Wall said the company fully intends to open its store in Boulder because it knows there is a market for its goods here.
"We look forward to offering our Boulder customers a more convenient location to access our fresh, healthy and affordable grocery products as well as our pharmacy products," Wall said in an email. "We offer competitive wages and good benefits to eligible full- and part-time associates including a health plan that starts as low as $17 per pay period."
Wall said the company will be opening a temporary hiring center soon near the store.
Coalition members criticized the company's efforts to stop its employees from unionizing and the devastating effects Walmarts have on local small businesses when they open.
"Since it's understandable that Walmart managers cannot afford to spend time finding and reading the opinions of members of communities you wish to impose your stores on, we will save you the time and effort of doing so by delivering to you this package containing news articles that highlight the various opinions about your plans," the letter reads.
Carolyn Bninski, of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, spoke Thursday about poor working conditions at Walmart's supplier factories, highlighting the November fire that killed at least 112 workers at the Tazreen Fashion factory, a Walmart supplier in Bangladesh.
"This is something Walmart has to take responsibility for," Bninski said. "There is so much pressure on suppliers for cheap prices, there is no room for safety, no room for food for some of these people."
Walmart last month announced plans for in-depth safety checks at every Bangladeshi factory that supplies its stores. The company said it will publicly release results from all 279 factories later this year, assuring safer working conditions and lifting the entire market to a "new standard."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.