The community organization No Oak Grove Walmart (NOGWal) held a rally July 14 against the corporate giant’s proposal to open a 63,500 square-foot grocery store at the vacant G.I. Joe’s building on McLaughlin Boulevard in Oak Grove, Oregon. More than 75 people attended, including speakers Jefferson Smith, who is running for mayor of Portland, and City Commissioner-elect Steve Novick. Walmart has targeted the Portland metropolitan area for 17 new stores, many of them near unionized grocers.
Lisa Brinson, a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 employed at Fred Meyer, said the encroachment of Walmart into communities brings down wages and benefits of all grocery workers. “Walmart would be a bad investment in this neighborhood of Oak Grove,” she said.
Valerie Chapman of NOGWal said some businesses are worse than an empty building. “We know people desperate to take care of their family will take any job,” she said. “But Walmart is a race to the bottom for everyone.”
Chapman said local residents have been working for several years on a plan to revitalize the economy of Oak Grove by including local businesses, walkable neighborhoods, tree-lined streets and open spaces not dominated by large parking lots. “Walmart was not part of our dream,” she said. “In fact, Walmart represents a nightmare for our hopes.”
More rallies are expected in Oak Grove, as well as at other locations where Walmart stores are being proposed.
Walmart has already opened grocery stores this year in West Linn, Beaverton, and Gresham.
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