Housing Complex

Walmart’s Offer: 2,000 Trained People (1,200 of Whom May Get Walmart Jobs)

Get in line, say your bit. (Lydia DePillis)

Just like that, Walmart's much-vaunted workforce development partnership with the District—which both parties have offered to critics as evidence of the company's goodwill—gets numbers and names. The Community College of the District of Columbia will get $1.7 million to create a "Retail Academy" that will train 1,000 people over three years in basic customer service skills. The Community Foundation of the National Capital Region will get $1.3 million to hand out in competitive grants to local community-based organizations for work readiness training.

And Walmart, of course, gets politicians off its back about any actual requirements of the gigantic company. Michelle Gilliard, head of the Walmart Foundation, said that while those who succeed at the Retail Academy should be well-equipped to take a Walmart job, there will be no preference for the D.C. residents who go through the program. Meanwhile, there's apparently been little progress on the Community Benefits Agreement the city has drawn up and proposed to Walmart. "We have not come to any conclusion on that," said Mayor Vince Gray at a press conference this morning, adding that he'd like to get something signed "as soon as possible."

It'll be very easy, though, for Walmart to simply tell the District: Look at everything we've given this city. Pipe down, ok?

The eagerness to accept help with job training looks like part of an overall shift by the Gray administration away from forcing companies to hire locally to either rewarding them for doing so or asking for their help in making Washingtonians into competitive applicants—something that groups like the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and Building Industry Association have long demanded. Jonathan Guevarra, CEO of the community college, said underwriting by corporations is the new way forward. "To us, this means moving away from some of the stale, unresponsive traditions that some of us have practiced for far too long," he said.

In fact, the District is counting on other corporations besides Walmart stepping up to keep this thing going. Nobody's quite sure what happens when the money runs out after three years; Gilliard says an additional commitment would depend on how things work out. Other obvious donors, like Target, Costco, and Shoppers, would look bad if they didn't chip in to match Walmart's generosity, given that the curriculum is supposed to address all kinds of retail positions. But then, they might not particularly care—what recourse would the District have if they just decided to pass? There are plenty of job-ready workers willing to come from Virginia and Maryland, after all. If the applicant pool gets deeper in D.C. because of a Walmart-funded education initiative, so much the better.

How is this playing with the people who do workforce training for a living? Well, all of them are now potential Walmart beneficiaries, being eligible for grants ranging between $150,000 and $200,000 (due September 8th! better hurry). Marina Streznewski, coordinator of the umbrella D.C. Jobs Council, acknowledged that the funding is needed, and retail training does help—but said the $3 million was probably too little to make a dent in the problem. And of course, nobody in her network was consulted about the new Retail Academy. She wasn't even told about the press conference.

Activists, naturally, are pissed off, and issued an open letter to Gray this morning decrying the lack of transparency in putting the whole thing together. The frustration is understandable, but probably futile—Walmart, the one with the money, is calling the shots.

Comments

  1. #1

    Let me see if I have this right. The district's schools are so incompetent that its graduates have to attend Community College classes in order tocount change and say "How may I help you"?

    So, will there be a B.A. in Floor Sales and a B.S. in Cash Register Science?

  2. #2

    Shorter Walmart offer:
    Your workforce sucks, but since we are going to make hundreds if millions every year... Forever... We'll pay a few million now toward teaching your sucky workforce basic 6th grade skills so that you shut the fuck up and don't bitch about us saturating your local retail economy.
    Either that, or we'll sue. And we've got more money and better lawyers than you do.
    Now get me a coffee, bitch.

  3. #3

    You chaps do know Walmart is already here, right? Just go about a mile outside of DC, on the Maryland side and you'll find a big shiny Walmart.
    .
    Yet somehow the DC economy has managed to survive.

    Yes, Walmart wrecks the economy of small towns. It's hideous to watch.

    But DC is a fairly large city. We already have discount chain stores, including Walmart, in our immediate area.

  4. #4

    Just curious, Drez. How much are you demanding that existing businesses in DC donate to train the local workforce?

  5. #5

    Hillman
    Many larger businesses have local hiring agreements. Many small ones hire local anyway. Wallmart promises neither.
    On top of that, 4 is too many. They'll saturate the retail market. They won't pay living wages, yet they will put some small businesses (who can really say how many?) out of business. Their parking lots will inhibit development that otherwise could have happened on that land.
    Why do I need Wallmart? I haven't so far. What's true is that Wallmart needs me and city dwellers like me. They've no where else to grow.
    Fuck them.

  6. #6

    Drez,

    3 of the 4 locations are outright ghettos, parcels of land in retail deserts that have been available for 3 decades, including the 8 years between 2000 and 2008 which takes the record fo the largest real estate boom in Washington DC's history, and yet those locations remained abandoned.

    So please enlighten us as to what development these Walmarts will be inhibiting?

    Many small ones hire local anyway? Really. Thats weird, because only 28% of District jobs are held by District residents.

    http://greatergreaterwashington.org/tag/jobs/

    What makes you the arbiter of how many is too many? Are you some retail expert? Do you work for a company like Costar doing regression and market analysis on commercial retail down the sub-zipcode?

    And what makes you the expert on what a living wage is? What do you even think a living wage is? Please, enlighten us as to how much someone who didn't graduate from highschool should make working an unskilled labor job stocking shelves?

    You've been very clear about your feelings for Walmart, you aren't going to shop there. Thats fine, you are entitled to your opinion, but they won't miss you, or the other 20 or so people making such an unsubstantiated and outsized racket.

  7. #7

    Drez- so you truly do not believe that DC residents will be employed by the Walmarts located in the District? So just who will be employed here? MD or VA residents commuting into our City to work a slightly above mininum wage gig? Ok, so let's suppose that no District residents work in Walmart, but we have a bevy of folks commuting into DC each day to work at these Walmarts- what's the problem? Non-residents workers do spend money in the District you know. So either way it's a win.

    Also, having this deep philosophical stance against the mega corporation that primarily caters to the lower income members of society is just moronic. Being angry at this behemoth for sending Moms and Pops in butt-fuck, Ohio out of business 20 years ago is only a luxury that the privileged in this city can afford. So don't shop there please, you would ruin my binge bargain sprees with your douchebaggery.

  8. #8

    Drez, maybe Walmart hasn't signed any agreement because neighborhood groups presented them with 27 pages of demands.

    That's right. 27 pages.

    Including a stipulation that Walmart not do background checks, not ask job applicants if they have a criminal record, and if Walmart somehow found out an applicant had a criminal record they would have to hire them anyway.

    Once you present ridiculous demands like that you lose all credibility.

    And how many other businesses do you think should be forced to hire felons and be given a 27 page list of demands before they can set up shop in a blighted underserved retail area? Or does only Walmart have to do that?

  9. #9

    Frazier-
    This is the first opinion I've posted on this. I'm a long time DC resident who recalls when the central business district, Shaw, 14th Street, U Street, Columbia Heights, and Petworth all could have been termed a "retail deserts", and I am untitled to my opinion, regardless of whether you agree with it, or whether it annoys (or frightens) you. As for "living wage", a lot has been published on this, even local to our MSA. Look it up, lazy.
    DC is strong without Wallmart. That is why they want to be here. They're not doing us any favors. They're going where the money is, and their profits won't be reapplied to this local economy, and we'll loose that multiplier effect.
    Hillman-
    Who says Wallmart has to respond to some 27 page wish list? I doubt I've even seen it, but I do know that what I would want (more urban stores, less huge parking lots, living wages + benefits) aren't on the table. I'd even go so far as to say that they will have a severe long term impact on Safeway and Giant (not the greatest stores, but many rely on them for both food and jobs) because of their anti-union stance.
    ABM-
    I like mega corporations. For example, I'm typing this on an iPad. But I dont like megacorps that take more than they give in return, which I believe will be the case with Wallmart. By the wY- Nice too see you still define yourself as being bent by the former Mayor. I guess you haven't seen that therapist yet.

  10. #10

    Drez:

    Pointing to Safeway employees as a model to strive for weakens your case.

    I've met some really sweet checkout ladies at Safeway. But most employees I meet are
    rude and have no interest in helping customers.

  11. #11

    Walmart was in negotiations with the District for a more urban style store, with smaller parking areas.

    This was before the 27 pages of demands.

    As for living wage plus benefits, I seriously doubt many private employers in the areas Walmart wants to go are having their wages and benefits dictated to by "neighborhood activists".

    But, then they probably aren't having Mayor Gray publicly threaten to withhold legal building permits for Walmart if they didn't agree to do him a political favor by building first at Skyline. Nothing quite like your Mayor publicly advocating that the District illegally deny legal permits.

  12. #12

    My fantasy: Wal-Mart pours millions of dollars into DC institutions, and still gets told no. Cuz we're not that kind of girl, and won't fall into bed with you just cuz you bought the surf-and-turf. You gotta get tested, agree to the pre-nup, and demonstrate a history of practicing protection, and my friends and family have to like you.

  13. #13

    Wouldn't it be nice if instead of donating a token amount to clean the Anacostia river they instead committed to building LEED certified structures and parking?
    After all, those buildings will long-outlast the $100K or whatever they donated.

  14. #14

    DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DO NOT FALL FOR THE OKIE DOKE.

    $100K FOR THE ANACOSTIA? WHAT IS THAT A FEW TRASH HAULS FROM VOLUNTEER CLEAN UP?

    I’M WITH Dreamer ON THIS.
    WASHINGTON, D.C. IS NOT SOME CHEAP TRICK. WE A LAYDAY.
    YO WALMART YOU CAN WINE, DINE AND PLOT ALL YOU WANT YOU WILL NOT GET THE ASS PERVERTS.

    WALMART IS A DOWNGRADE FOR D.C. THEM COMING IN WOULD BE AKIN TO CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICAN DEAL. IT MAY LOOK GOOD ON SURFACE BUT DOESN’T ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF WASHINGTON DC. WE NEED FOLKS TO MOVE HERE AND BUY SOME HOMES, WE NEED SOME GOOD TEACHERS FOR OUR SCHOOLS AND WE NEED SOME UPSTANDING FOLK ON COUNCIL. I CANT PICTURE FOLK SAYING “WALMART IS DOWN THE STREET SO IMA BUY THIS HOUSE” I WOULD THINK IT WOULD BE JUST THE OPPOSITE.

    ALL THOSE FOLK DEFENDING WALMART HERE AND THROUGHOUT THIS CITY WILL NOT BE SUBJECT TO THE NON-DEVELOPMENT AND SHUTTERING OF SMALL NEIGHBORHOOD BUSINESSES WITH ESTABLISHED RELATIONSHIPS WITH ITS PATRONS. EVEN THE NEIGHBORHOOD DRUNK WHO EVERYBODY KNOWS WILL BE DISENFRANCHISED DUE TO THE CORNER STORE CLOSING BECAUSE OF LACK OF SALES OF ITS CHEAP GOODS BECAUSE WALMART IS SELLING THEM EVEN CHEAPER. THE VERY STORE WHO LETS HIM BUY HIS 211’S BEFORE 9AM OR GIVES IT TO HIM IN EXCHANGE FOR SWEEPING THE FRONT OF SAID STORE.

    THE DISTRICT IS UNIQUE IN ITS OWN LIL’ URBAN WAY AND IM ALL FOR KEEPING IT THIS WAY. THE UNITED STATES TOOK A MAJOR HIT ACROSS THE BOARD AND STARTED TO LOSE ITS WAY WHEN IT STARTED TO OPEN IT DOORS REGARDING FREE TRADE THAT BENEFITS CORPORATIONS SUCH AS WALMART, WHO BY THE WAY DIDN’T WANT TO COME TO D.C. WHEN TIMES WAS ROUGH BUT THEY WANT IN NOW BECAUSE FOLK IN RURAL AREAS ARENT BUYING THAT CRAP ANY LONGER DUE TO THE HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE.

    THAT $1.3 MIL THEY ARE GIVING TOWARDS SOME FAKE ASS TRAINING AINT SHIT. WE GOT FOLK ON THE DC GOVT PAYROLL STEALING AND GIVING THAT AMOUNT AWAY ON THE REGULAR. HOW ABOUT DONATING SOME 'BILLIONS' TO THE DCPS OVERACHEIVERS TO PUT THEM THROUGH COLLEGE THEN HAVE THEM COME BACK AND WORK. ALL THIS BULLSHIT THEY ARE PROPOSING IS NOTHING BUT SMOKE AND MIRRORS. WALMART WANTS IN AND YOU SEE THEY ARE DOING ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER TO GET IN.

    THINK ABOUT IT $1,700 PER TRAINEE???? THAT AMOUNT DOESN’T EVEN BEGIN TO BALANCE OFF ALL THE DOUGH THOSE JOKERS WILL RAKE IN. THEY ACT LIKE THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING WHEN IN FACT THE TRAINING MORE THAN LIKELY WILL BE CONDUCTED BY SOME WALMART OFFSHOOT COMPANY OR STAFF DUE TO LACK OF TIME BETWEEN NOW AND GRANT CUT OFF. HOW MANY OF THOSE TRAINERS WILL BE WASHINGTONIANS TO TRAIN FOLK UP IN THE WALMART WAY SPECIFIC?

    1200 OUTTA 2000 may get WALMART JOBS?

    MANNNN FUCK WALMART!!!!

    NO WALMART IN WARD 4.

  15. #15

    @Drez
    " As for "living wage", a lot has been published on this, even local to our MSA. Look it up, lazy"

    Thanks for proving you have zero idea what you are talking about. If you are going to critisize someone, make sure you atleast know what you are saying, otherwise we end up simply laughing at your buffoonary. The "living wage" the District government requires on jobs with city taxpayer contributions is 20% lower than the "living wage" demanded by the hilarious "respect dc" group that issued the 27 pages of demands Hillman mentioned above.

    And Dreamer,

    3 of the 4 Walmart locations are by-right locations. Walmart can start building there tomorrow without the cities permission. No special dispensation, zoning variences or Special Use Permits required. Walmart doesn't need the Mayors permission, or yours for those 3.

  16. #16

    Frazier,

    So if they can do as they please, why're they doing so much some-people pleasing? Genuine question, in case it's something more than not particularly interesting PR because everyone knows they're a crap employer and a crap corporate citizen in any community they inhabit.

    http://www.newrules.org/retail/key-studies-walmart-and-bigbox-retail

    And they certainly don't need either my permission or my business. Fortunately, I don't need theirs - yet - to form and express an opinion on what happens in the city I live and pay taxes in.

    wondering what they have in mind for dessert...

  17. #17

    Frazier-
    When it comes to clueless buffoonery, you are a master of projection.
    Cheers.

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