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The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that in Inglewood, California, the City Council has voted not to allow Wal-Mart to build a supercenter within the city limits.

The actual vote was on an ordinance that prevents the building of stores bigger than 155,000 square feet and carrying more than 20,000 taxable items, but the Times notes that this set of criteria would apply to few retailers other than Wal-Mart. Passage of the ordinance was promoted by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, which said it plans to push for similar legislation in the city of Los Angeles. Passage of such a ban in L.A. would have a far more limiting effect on Wal-Mart’s growth plans in California; the Arkansas retailer has said it wants to build at least 40 supercenters in California over the next four to six years.

There currently are no Wal-Mart Supercenters in California.

The UFCW opposes Wal-Mart because the retailer is assiduously non-union. The union spokesman told the Times that the ordinance was drafted in such a way that it would affect Wal-Mart without banning retailers such as Costco from the city. Costco is a unionized retail operation.

Wal-Mart officials haven’t crafted an official response to the vote, though a spokesman did say that the company is “not accepting that this ordinance is permanent yet," Among the possibilities would be calling for a referendum on the issue, or seeking a legal repeal.

This isn’t the only municipality where Wal-Mart is facing such opposition, Martinez, California, a community northeast of San Francisco in the northern part of the state, also recently passed a similar ordinance.
KC's View:
California is both famously liberal and generally pro-union, so many of its communities are likely to give the union perspective a full hearing. Of course, there will be others (many of them liberal) that will see Wal-Mart as a magnet for shoppers, a generator of tax revenue, and a generally positive influence on the community.

There’s one thing that is easy to predict. Wal-Mart won’t take these kinds of defeats graciously. The Bentonville behemoth hates losing anything to the union, and it won’t want to see its vaunted California expansion plans limited by organized labor. So, it will likely do whatever it takes and spend whatever needs to be spent to overturn these kinds of ordinances.

And if it loses, Wal-Mart is likely to set up shop in a location that draws as many customers from within the Inglewood borders as possible.

As Michael Corleone said to Sonny Corleone in ‘The Godfather,” "It's not personal…it's strictly business."