To the Editor:
First it was Walmart, now Menards. These are huge examples of the things that are a great danger to the culture and diversity of Athens. Menards, which is owned by a Republican billionaire, reportedly puts new employees through extraneous anti-union training. What I’m trying to tell you is that Menards will not in any way benefit the local economy.
This is just another tactic for us to funnel our money to the top of the economic spectrum. We cannot continue to allow entities like this to leech off of our community. We must encourage workers unions and put an end to this greed. No new corporation should even be considered to enter Athens without a promise to support unions or at least pay workers $15 an hour (which I personally think is a low mark for minimum wage).
For those of us who moved here or were born here and continue to live here because of the unique culture, we need to unite. The culture and charm is being assaulted by big money. Just like every other place where people create a vibrant culture, the wealthy who see potential for some hit-and-run profit now see us clearly.
We can’t allow billionaires to exploit local people for their labor. This is a bad track to be on, and when it comes time for the arrival of tech companies (which was brought up in the Oct. 3 City Council candidates forum), think about San Francisco and how people are being driven out by the tech industry
If San Francisco can’t sustain itself, how are we to think our little charming town stands a chance. If we don’t pull together and stand up against developments like these, Athens will look a lot different in 20 years, and a lot of people who give Athens its charm and culture won’t live here any more.
To me it seems that by the logic of the two-party system we are presented with, that an almost completely democratic government wouldn’t have allowed a Republican billionaire to perch in our town to extract our money. What are the real reasons behind this catastrophic development? When we are trying to draw businesses here, we should be looking at the way they treat employees and dedication to sustainability regarding the environment.
Menards has nothing to do with locality or community, and we should have nothing to do with Menards.
Editor’s note: Construction of a Menards home improvement big-box store is well under way near the eastern border of Athens. To say it’s too late to reverse course on that store is probably an understatement. TS