FOR IMMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, April 30, 2012
WORKERS, COMMUNITY LEADERS CALL FOR WALMART CEO, CHAIRMAN TO STEP DOWN
As Walmart Approaches its 50th Anniversary, “Making Change at Walmart” Campaign Calls For Accountability, Checks on the Retailer’s Power
Petition By Walmart Associate Calling for New Company Leadership Gains Thousands of Signatures
WASHINGTON— In the aftermath of the New York Times report on Walmart’s corruption scandal and reported cover-up, Making Change at Walmart—a national, broad coalition of Walmart workers, shareholders, and community leaders—is calling for the immediate resignation of Walmart’s Chairman Rob Walton and CEO Mike Duke.
“We now have proof of what we have been saying all along, that this company will stop at nothing to increase its bottom line,” said New York Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a member of the Wal-Mart Free NYC coalition. “Walmart broke a trust, and the company needs to take bold steps to rebuild that trust and it begins with new leadership.”
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Walmart has unparalleled size and impact on the American economy as the country’s largest employer and retailer. On April 19, the group released a set of proposals calling on Walmart and the Walton family, the richest family in America with a combined wealth of more than $100 billion – more than the 30 percent of American families combined, to commit to improve workers’ lives, rebuild communities, guarantee workers’ rights, and elevate global and sustainable living standards.
“To rebuild America, and restore the economy for the middle class, we need to make change at Walmart today,” said Rev. Eric Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “Our country cannot afford another minute of a ‘Walmart economy’ where owners and executives make billions of dollars while workers struggle just to pay the rent and keep food on the table.”
Walmart Associate and company shareholder Venanzi Luna from South Gate, Calif., has started an online petitioncalling for the resignations of the retailer’s chairman and chief executive officer for reportedly squelching an internal probe into bribery allegations. In just a few days the petition has garnered more than 5,500 signatures. Luna, who has worked at Walmart for seven years, said she wanted to get 10,000 online signatures or more.
“I am angry that top Walmart executives were involved in illegal activity and then tried to cover up the scandal,” Luna said. “For years my co-workers and I have been saying that this company has lost its way. We didn’t know it had gotten this bad.”
“If Walmart makes the changes we’re calling for, we can take a big step toward turning this country around for regular people,” said Cindy Murray, a Walmart associate from Laurel, Md who has worked for the retailer for 12 years. “It’s time for Walmart to come clean and regain the trust of customers, workers, shareholders and the communities where it has stores.”
Both Luna and Murray are members of Organization United for Respect at Walmart, or OUR Walmart, an independent group of Walmart Associates aimed at improving conditions for the retailer’s workers and the company.
Local Criticism of Walmart’s Business Practices
In cities and towns across the country, Walmart has been facing an outpouring of community criticism for its business practices that harm workers, small businesses and the environment and take away jobs. In Los Angeles, long-time residents and shoppers said they want to ensure any Walmart store that opens meet community standards for pay and working conditions. In Washington, D.C., Walmart was forced to announce it will delay the opening of five planned stores because the company needs more time to receive community input. And in New York City, elected leaders last week called for Walmart to stay out of the city and withdraw its bid to open new stores in the area.
“Walmart and the Waltons must strengthen communities, protect the environment and ensure the well-being of associates and workers throughout its U.S. supply and distribution chain,” said Elce Redmond from the South Austin Coalition in Chicago. “Instead of empty promises and PR campaigns, we demand that Walmart sign a national community benefits agreement that guarantees when Walmart expands, it will strengthen – not undermine — our communities.”
Making Change at Walmart is leading a nationwide campaign for workers, community members, small business owners and activists to share their stories on the impact Walmart has had on their lives as the company plans to celebrate its 50th Anniversary this year. Stories are online at www.WalmartAt50.org.
Making Change at Walmart is a campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families. Anchored by UFCW, we are a coalition of Walmart associates, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, women advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials, and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is vital for the future of our country.