Wednesday, November 28, 2001
Tracy Johnson's letter (Nov. 24) got me thinking. Apparently the main thing that makes Tracy and her husband want Wal-Mart is the convenience of buying cheap underwear. Wal-Mart is the number one seller of cheap underwear in the world. In 1996 alone, Wal-Mart sold 1.13 pairs of underwear for every man, woman, and child in America. They are the sellers, but who actually sews those millions of pairs of underwear? Young women and girls in Bangladesh are forced to work from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week, for 9 to 20 cents an hour, with monitored bathroom breaks, no benefits, and no maternity leave -- sewing the cheap underwear that we can buy at Wal-Mart. They are screamed at on the job and fired on the spot for insubordination. Their human rights are systematically violated. This information is from the National Labor Organization. Almost one year ago, KLD Research & Analytics, Inc. removed Wal-Mart from their investment equity index for operating factories that violate basic human and labor rights. If you care about social justice, you should oppose Wal-Mart. If you care about the environment, the paving and developing of over 16 acres of land will create more polluted run-off than anyone local should want spilling onto nearby land and into our water systems. Imagine 12 more acres of oil leaks. Imagine the oil running out into our land and water every time it rains. If you care about your local economy, you should oppose Wal-Mart. For every dollar you spend there, only 6 cents stays in our community, while 94 cents leaves town electronically overnight. Studies have shown that for every single job created at a Wal-Mart, 1.5 jobs are lost in the community as local businesses close when they can't compete. Hood River would become another economic colony for distant executives. We should also be asking these questions: What will happen to the existing 50,000 square-foot Wal-Mart building? Will the city or county have to pay for widening streets, putting in signals, increased police patrols, or laying water and sewer lines? In 1998, a new Wal-Mart store opened in this country every three days. We already have one. Mrs. Tracy Johnson can already go to Wal-Mart to buy her sons cheap underwear made by young girls in third world sweat shops. Why in the world would Hood River want a monstrous, four-acre "Super Center" and a possibly vacant 50,000 square foot building?