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No-show Walmart takes the heat at NYC council hearing

A file photo of a Walmart store.

A file photo of a Walmart store. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Walmart was a glaring no-show at a packed City Council hearing Thursday examining what could happen if the big-box retailer opened its first New York City store.

Although the council would have no say over the opening of a store, some members used the hearing to air their grievances about the company’s practices.

“Walmart has a public and proven track record of creating jobs that do not pay sufficiently, nor offer feasible health insurance options,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Councilman Charles Barron (D-East New York) compared Walmart jobs to “slave workers” at a “plantation.”

Steven Restivo, a Walmart spokesman, said in an e-mail that the company has not formally picked a site, but is evaluating opportunities in all five boroughs. Potential locations include East New York and Brownsville — communities in Brooklyn facing high unemployment and crime.

Restivo called Thursday’s hearing a “special-interest rally” and said it should have included all large grocers and retailers operating in New York City, instead of singling out Walmart.

Still, the company is making overtures to labor groups and announced this week a five-year deal with the Building and Construction Trades Council that union workers would be used to build any of its city stores.

Some New Yorkers who testified at Thursday’s hearing lauded Walmart, saying it would create much-needed jobs in a down economy.

The company will again be the focus of a Feb. 17 council hearing discussing its handling of women’s issues, civil rights and labor.

Restivo said Walmart has not decided if it will attend.

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