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John Shannon
Posted On: Aug 20, 2010
‘I’m a Fighter’

How John Shannon battled Walmart and won

John Shannon, a retired Union meat cutter who lives in Chico, knows the Biblical story of David and Goliath well. As a matter of fact, he lived his own version of it for seven years.

When Shannon heard that Walmart wanted to build a new Super-center north of the city and expand its store in Chico into another Super-center, he decided to “fight the good fight” for his community.

“I read the reports from around the country about what happens to area businesses when Walmart Super-centers come in,” Shannon said. “It takes a few years, but small businesses close, and there are environment issues as well.

“We estimated that if Walmart was successful, it would lead to the closing of two of our seven Union supermarkets, with the loss of some 250 jobs. As a long-time Union man, I couldn’t sit back and do nothing.”

Founded community group

Shannon founded a community group called CARE: Chico Advocates for a Responsible Environment. He single handedly gathered support from Unions, environmental groups and politicians. “We hired an attorney, Brett Jolley, and an executive director, Heather Schlaff,” he said, “and they were terrific. Markets and downtown businesses that would have been hurt by a


 Walmart Super-center were all members of the Chamber. Yet the Chamber was the number-one supporter of Walmart.

“Even after we showed them that only six cents of every dollar spent by a Super-center shopper would stay in the city, versus 60 cents in other stores, they wouldn’t budge and still fought us tooth and nail.”

Shannon won the battle to stop the Super-center north of the city after only two meetings of the Butte County Board of Supervisors. But the battle in the city of Chico would drag on for seven years.

“They kept delaying things until they could elect a majority of Chico City Council members who were in favor of the expansion,” he recalled. “We supported candidates who understood the real impact a Super-center would have on the area.

“Our candidates won, and after seven long years, Walmart threw in the towel.” Shannon isn’t resting on his laurels.

“If the candidates we support again prevail in the 2010 elections, I believe Walmart will finally drop its plans to expand,” Shannon said. “But we have to make sure our candidates win.

“All Union members need to come out and vote. Their votes made a difference in the past and will do so again. The outcome of this election can directly affect the economy in our city and our ability to earn a living.

Shannon vows to persevere until he is sure that Walmart’s plans are gone for good. “I’m a fighter,” he said. “It’s a good thing I’m Irish and politics is in my genes. That means I’ll keep working until we’ve seen the last of Walmart’s plan to expand into a Super-center.


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