Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Teamsters push to oust Rob Walton as Walmart board chairman, support Walmart strikers

Walmart strikers today at Rob Walton's house. 

The Teamsters Union is calling for an independent board chairman at Walmart because of the company's labor violations and the ongoing investigation into corruption and bribery in Mexico, China, Brazil and India.

Walmart workers are striking this week with the support of the Teamsters and other unions to protest their poverty pay and retaliation for trying to organize a union. Walmart management, while scrimping on pay for its workers, plans to reward its executives lavishly though the sales have declined steadily for more than a year.

Today, Walmart moms protested outside the house of Rob Walton, Walmart chairman and CEO and one of the richest men in the world by virtue of his birth. As Walmart workers walk off the job tomorrow, Teamsters around the country will be showing solidarity.

Making Change at Walmart tells us Walmart workers held a meeting in Phoenix about inequality, then marched to Walton's estate carrying flags that read, "Moms won't be silenced."
Workers held the meeting and march to call on Rob Walton to respect workers’ right to speak out without fear of retaliation or step down as board chair given his many failures in leadership. One of six Walton heirs and majority owners of Walmart, Rob has failed to address basic concerns over wages, worker treatment and corporate controls, while he has continued to enrich his family – already the wealthiest in America – at the cost of millions of workers in Walmart’s stores and throughout its supply chain.
Mark Gruenberg at People's World reported:
The moms are part of a larger movement of workers conducting an inside campaign to force Walmart to raise its notoriously low pay, improve its bad benefits, give its workers full-time 40-hour-a-week jobs with set schedules and end its retaliation against workers who speak out. 
The moms and their allies will be part of a demonstration at the anti-worker retailer's shareholders meeting in Bentonville in the first week of June... 
Several unions, including the Teamsters, the UAW's Voluntary Employees Benefits Association - which runs the health insurance for its GM and Chrysler workers - and the Change To Win investment group, filed shareholder resolutions for Walmart's meeting. And Institutional Shareholder Services recommends that mutual funds vote to force Rob Walton out of his chair and for the Teamsters' move to have an independent chair instead.
Here is the Teamsters' resolution: 

RESOLVED:    The stockholders of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (the “Company”), ask the Board of Directors to adopt a policy that, whenever possible, the board chairman should be a director who has not previously served as an executive officer of the Company and who is “independent” of management.  For these purposes, a director shall not be considered “independent” if, during the last three years, he or she –
Was, or was affiliated with a company that was, an advisor or consultant to the Company, or a significant customer or supplier of the Company;
Was employed by, or had a personal service contract(s) with the Company or its senior management;
Was affiliated with a company or non-profit entity that received the greater of $2 million or 2 percent of its gross annual revenues from the Company;
Had a business relationship with the Company that the Company had to disclose under SEC regulations;
Has been employed by a public company at which an executive officer of the Company serves as a director;
Had a relationship of the sort described above with an affiliate of the Company; or,
Was a spouse, parent, child, sibling or in-law of any person described above.
The policy should be implemented without violating any contractual obligation and should specify how to select an independent chairman if a current chairman ceases to be independent between annual shareholder meetings.  Compliance with the policy may be excused if no independent director is available and willing to be chairman.

SUPPORTING STATEMENT:   We believe the Board of Directors ability to provide independent oversight of management is compromised when the chairman of the board is not independent.
We believe that an independent Chairman who sets agendas, priorities and procedures for the board can enhance its oversight and accountability of management, and help ensure the objective functioning of an effective board.  We view the alternative of having a lead outside director, even one with a robust set of duties, as adequate only in exceptional circumstances fully disclosed by the board.

Investigations into bribery and corruption at Wal-Mart’s subsidiaries in Mexico, China, Brazil, and India, along with a recent National Labor Relations Board decision to authorize a nationwide complaint against the company for violations of federal labor law, highlight the need for enhanced oversight of Wal-Mart’s corporate culture and behavior.  A board led by an independent chairman is best positioned to drive such change.