SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - Walmart lost a major battle last night to build a 130,000 square foot supercenter in Southfield, a Detroit suburb, as the City Council voted 5 to 1 to not rezone a land parcel the big box giant desperately wanted.
The vote took place after 70 plus residents patiently waited their turn to address the council - with some not speaking until well past midnight - to voice concerns with the traffic congestion, increased accidents, reduced pedestrian safety, and much more the store would bring.
The project is "too intense, too dense and destroys neighborhood structure" said Ken Whittaker, the community liaison for the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO.
Contrary to Walmart's claim its bringing new jobs to the city, Southfield resident Barbara Selden said full time jobs will be lost as "small businesses are pushed out."
A big box store also causes money to flow away from the community said Danielle, who spoke on behalf of her father who owns a small grocery store near the proposed project. She said for every $100 spent in locally owned stores, $68, stays in the community; while in a big box store, only $43 remains.
A Walmart representative addressing the council said the global chain provides good entry level retail jobs that can quickly lead to much higher paying full time jobs.
That assertion was questioned by Rainbow PUSH Detroit coordinator Pastor D. Alexander Bullock who said there were "moral implications" with the Walmart model for doing business. Because of their record with workers and minorities, "Walmart is not a win for Southfield" said Bullock.
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has said the average pay of a Walmart worker is $8.81 an hour.
Council members said they had received hundreds of phone calls, emails, petitions and text messages urging them to reject the rezoning. The council listened and those attending felt democracy came out a winner.
Photo: Walmart workers with organization United for Respect at Walmart protest the retail giant's vicious anti-labor policies and tactics.