WASHINGTON — In a letter published today in the New York Times, Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, criticized the White House's recognition of Wal-Mart Stores' plan to operate stores in food-desert communities that lack supermarkets.
"The White House's decision to pay tribute to Wal-Mart for agreeing to open or expand stores in areas designated as 'food deserts' was misguided," Hansen wrote.
He went on to write that Wal-Mart "has a history of destroying good jobs in the communities it enters and creating jobs that perpetuate the cycle of poverty — leaving more workers unable to buy healthy food for their families."
Hansen's conclusion: "Instead of honoring Wal-Mart, the White House should laud employers who are creating good jobs with benefits that can support a family and challenge Wal-Mart to do the same."
Several retailers, including Wal-Mart, Supervalu and Walgreens, committed last week to open or expand 1,500 stores in underserved communities across the U.S. and to make affordable, healthier food options more accessible.
Those commitments were announced by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Partnership for a Healthier America initiative aimed at eliminating food deserts in the U.S. within seven years.