Competitors secretly finance local opposition to WalMart in Mundelein and elsewhere

NEW YORK - MAY 20: A protester holds a sign during a rally against a proposed Wal-Mart in Starrett City on May 20, 2010 in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Over a dozen people attended the rally, saying that the shopping center would undercut smaller local businesses and that the giant retailer has a blighted history with labor unions, discrimination and fair pay. If Wal-Mart is successful in building te store, it would be the first in New York City. Wal-Mart is currently contending with a discrimation lawsuit, one of the largest in U.S. history. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)



















You know all the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) noise opposing the construction of WalMarts? Turns out that some of it is secretly funded by WalMart's competition. The Wall Street Journal detailed how it worked in north suburban Mundelein.



Local activists and union groups have been the public face of much of the resistance. But in scores of cases, large supermarket chains including Supervalu Inc.,Safeway Inc. and Ahold NV have retained Saint Consulting to block Wal-Mart, according to hundreds of pages of Saint documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with former employees....


In Mundelein, where Supervalu wanted to protect its Jewel-Osco stores from Wal-Mart, Saint first focused on a vote on the 100-acre development by the city's Plan Commission, scheduled for May 2007, Saint documents indicate. Saint's Chicago-based regional director, Jay Vincent, who drives a Honda CRV with the license plates BLKOPS 1, assigned the job to a project manager, Saint documents indicate. That manager, who is a baseball fan, borrowed an alias for each of his assignments from a major leaguer. For the Mundelein job, he took the name of a former catcher for the Minnesota Twins, Greg Olson.

"For this project, delay is a substantial weapon," the project manager wrote in a report. He sent a flyer to neighbors of the proposed development that outlined purported evils of a neighborhood Wal-Mart, including increased police calls and more traffic. The flyer listed his alias and an email address, according to several residents.

The article doesn't mention whether the competition was actively involved in the campaign to stop WalMart from building a store in a depressed South Side neighborhood. Perhaps with many of the Chicago aldermen already in the pockets of organized labor, the help of competitors wasn't needed to kill the badly needed project. 

Comments

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  • Seems to me this is the logical result of the ridiculous legal fiction that "corporations are people". If any righties have a problem with this, just remember that your right-wing supreme court believes that corporations have the same first-amendment rights as any American citizen, and they don't even have to be up-front about who they are when they use their megabucks to influence public policy and public opinion.

  • In that Jewel and Dominick's closed most of their south side stores, I doubt it. However, I'm surprised that they aren't fighting all the ethnic stores on the north side and north suburbs (including Mundelein) that underprice them by 50%. Of course, SuperValu had to sell some of those former Cub Food stores to those operators to get antitrust clearance to acquire Jewel.

    I suppose, though, that neither the management nor labor of the higher priced emporia look with favor at WalMart.

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