With Christmas now over, signatures for a Wal-Mart referendum submitted yesterday, and a New Year on the horizon, there’s no time like now to think about our future.
by Jeff Powell
It had been a bad few months for Jacob. He was laid off from his job a few months back and his savings were dwindling fast.
Christmas was coming soon and he wanted to provide his family with a decent holiday, or at least make enough to keep the lights on at his apartment.
Jacob read an article in the paper that Wal-Mart was doing well and continuing to expand its store locations despite the recession. This was good news.
He instantly felt a sense of relief. “Surely they will be opening new stores in my area since my community is in desperate need of cheap groceries and other products. Wal-Mart will surely be hiring for the new location as well.”
Working at Wal-Mart was definitely not a dream job for Jacob, but it would help keep his dreams alive. It would also pay the bills and possibly buy a few gifts for his kids. Also, if he worked hard and proved himself a good worker he could advance and receive better pay.
Motivated, he called Wal-Mart the next day to apply for a job.
“Unfortunately sir we will not be able to open a new store in your area and cannot hire you.”
“What?!” Jacob exclaimed, “why not? Do you not understand how badly my community needs a decent grocery store? Do you have any idea how many people want a Wal-Mart and need jobs here?”
“Of course we know, we would love to open a Wal-Mart in your community and have tried to do so. Unfortunately the San Diego City Council has made it too difficult for us to open anymore stores in the city,” the Wal-Mart representative said apologetically.
Jacob hung up the phone in a daze. “This must be some type of mistake,” he thought. He met his councilmember a few times in the past and voted for him in 2008. Jacob even remembered hearing him make a speech promising to bring more jobs to the local community.
He picked up the phone to call his councilmember and get some answers. After several attempts he was able to get him on the phone.
“Yes it’s true my friend, I was happy to protect neighborhood businesses and decent wages in our community!” the councilmember said proudly.
“Are those decent wage jobs hiring?” asked Jacob. “I could really use the work but unfortunately they’re not hiring. Even if they were, they’ll only hire union members.”
“Of course they aren’t hiring!” the councilmember said annoyingly, “we’re in a terrible recession … those union jobs are unavailable.”
“Then why in God’s name did you introduce an ordinance that would keep out a chance at jobs for the rest of us?!” asked Jacob. “I need a job to provide for my family, I need to keep the lights on and put food on the table! How can I do that without a job?”
“I feel for you sir, I really do. But we must stand in solidarity with our union brothers for good wages. Best of luck to you and I’m sure something will turn up. Unfortunately I am going to have to end this discussion as my time is valuable … I’m sure something will turn up.”
Jacob slowly hung up the phone with shaking hands. All the hope he felt earlier quickly disappeared.
Looking out the window of his apartment Jacob couldn’t understand which issue troubled him more, how he could possibly pay his rent next month or how disconnected his councilmember was to the real world.
Jeff Powell has been a San Diego resident since 2006 and currently works as a Communications Advisor to Councilmember Carl DeMaio.