Council members Wednesday ripped into the millions of charitable dollars Walmart and its foundation has been giving New York City organizations that house people with HIV/AIDS, provide job training to the disabled and support women's groups.
At a rally on City Hall steps, council members and members of communications, retail and food workers' unions announced a letter signed by 27 city lawmakers that chastised the retailer for "running a stealth campaign with your money" and called on the company to "stop spending your dangerous dollars in New York City."
"This is the biggest and most coveted market in the country. They've saturated their rural markets and suburban markets," said Audrey Sasson, director for the Walmart-Free NYC coalition. "We know by watching them that New York City is still valued and prized for them."
Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz said the money will keep coming into New York City and that the donations have nothing to do with opening a store here.
"We have no intention of stopping the contributions we're making to these worthwhile organizations," Wertz said. "The recipients of these contributions tell us that they're needed and welcomed."
Walmart and its charitable foundations have donated $3 million to New York City groups over the past year, including Goodwill, the New York Women's Foundation and Baily House. Walmart also touts its financial support for charter schools around the country and in the city.
A spokeswoman for the NY Women's Foundation, Ruth Sarlin, noted that the money is from the Walmart foundation-"not the Walmart business."
Councilman Danny Dromm of Queens said he wanted to let organizations know "other people are watching who they're taking money from."
- With Noelani Montero