Local 152 to fight Millville Walmart expansion

The News of Cumberland County, May 4, 2011
MILLVILLE — The application regarding expanding the existing Walmart in Cumberland Crossing shopping center into a Walmart Supercenter will be reviewed at the Zoning Board meeting Thursday night.
Gerald Chudoff, representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 152 will be attending to oppose the expansion. Chudoff represents employees at large- and small-scale supermarkets in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, including the Shoprite across from the current Walmart, and employees that were forced out of the Acme on 2nd Street last February.
Chudoff said that he is speaking on behalf of the supermarket employees and the taxpayers who, he says, will feel the burden if the supercenter is approved.
“I’ll be at the meeting bringing up the specific flaws in the application,” Chudoff said.
One of the main points that Chudoff is focusing on is the empty space in the Cumberland Crossing shopping center.
“The Staples moved, the Pathmark shut down,” Chudoff said. “It’s practically empty and Walmart wants to add 40,000 square feet to the current building.”
He said he does not understand why the company would not focus on the commercial real estate that is currently empty, instead of adding new space to the pre-existing Walmart.
“The city won’t be able to get new tenants in the other stores. It draws the life out of the community,” Chudoff said.
Chudoff also brought up studies he obtained from Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania, detailing the negative impact the supercenter will have and the impact of the addition of the food produce market.
“Millville is a UEZ (Urban Enterprise Zone), which means food is non-taxable,” Chudoff said. “The city won’t be able to generate tax on the food products. There’s no gain there.”
Chudoff also said that the employees will lose out.
“A Walmart Supercenter has between 500 to 700 employees living under the national poverty rate,” Chudoff said.
He backed this up by explaining that a full-time work week for a Walmart employee is only 28 hours per week. The employees also are not able to claim any health insurance.
“Walmart is the largest employer of employees on public assistance in New Jersey,” Chudoff said. “Walmart is making the tax payers have the burden.”
For every two jobs that Walmart creates, three higher-paying jobs are lost, Chudoff said.
“They’re offsetting the higher-paying jobs with minimum-wage jobs and no health care,” Chudoff said.
He also tied this in with the Millville redevelopment plan for Main Street.
“Being that unemployment is so high, yes, the project does create more jobs. But it kills the more desirable ones,” Chudoff said.
Another issue Chudoff was the amount of crime brought in by a Walmart.
“Yes, there are cameras in the parking lot. But the high rates of shoplifting and loitering becomes quite a nuisance for the local police,” Chudoff said, noting that in Cinnaminson, the local court has one day per month designated to prosecuting only Walmart shoplifters.
Bottino’s Shoprite attorney Ron Gasiorowski of Red Bank, representing the union members of Local 152, will also be attending the meeting.
At the end of last year, Chudoff fought a Walmart Supercenter application in Upper Deerfield. The “Redevelopment Plan” was for an area stretching from Carll’s Corner to Parsonage Road. It would have directly affected the potential expansion of Route 77 and Walmart.
That was turned down, and Chudoff was successful.
Thursday night, Chudoff will be bringing the same concerns to Millville and advocate for the food produce employees and the city. The agenda session begins at 7 p.m. with the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.