For Immediate Release
Walmart Women Attend Annual Shareholder Meeting and Tell Company It's Time to Invest in Associates
BENTONVILLE, Arkansas - This week at Walmart’s annual meeting — amidst growing criticism about Walmart’s aggressive share buyback program, gender-based violence in its overseas garment supply chain, and sexual harassment allegations — associates stood together to improve pay and working conditions at the country’s largest employer. Before the meeting, OUR Walmart leaders rallied outside Walmart’s ‘home office’ to deliver an updated Declaration of Respect, created by a team of Walmart women after gathering input from more than 9,000 current Walmart associates. Inside the meeting, women who work part-time at Walmart presented two shareholder proposals calling for increased investment in the company’s workforce and greater transparency.
While Walmart is making $500 billion in annual revenues and using the majority of its $2.2 billion windfall from the GOP tax bill to enrich shareholders. A report released recently by the Roosevelt Institute reveals that, over the past 10 years, Walmart has returned more than $121.6B in cash to shareholders in the form of dividends ($53.8B) and share repurchases ($67.9B). Meanwhile, Walmart is falling behind peers on wages; Target has committed to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour while Walmart’s is only at $11 an hour - below the federal poverty line.
“No offense to the Walton family, but you don’t need more money,” said Guirlene Mazarin, an OUR Walmart leader and Walmart employee who presented the proposal on share buybacks. “It’s time to invest in associates. For every dollar that the company spends on share repurchases, Walmart should grant an equal amount to the Associate Stock Purchase Plan.”
“Trapped in Part-Time” — a report co-authored by the Organization United for Respect, Fairweek Initiative and Center for Popular Democracy — exposes Walmart for blocking the path to full-time work and a living wage for the majority of its 550,000 part-time hourly associates. The report also finds widespread favoritism and discrimination that may play a significant role in hampering career advancement and economic security, especially for women and people of color who are underrepresented in managerial positions at Walmart. The Organization United for Respect introduced a proposal at the company’s shareholder meeting requesting that Walmart reveal whether or not the company pays associates of color less than others or if people of color are stuck in typically, lower-paying part-time positions.
“Favoritism should have no place in our stores,” said Walmart associate Arianna Smith, who presented the proposal. “Too often, managers are picking and choosing who gets ahead. We also know that at Walmart managers are disproportionately white and male. That’s why I believe it is essential for Walmart to be transparent and fair.”
On the heels of several recent victories, one hundred hourly associate-members of OUR Walmart from across the country also met in Bentonville this week to discuss plans to broaden the fight for gender, racial, and economic justice at Walmart and throughout the retail industry.
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