“Unprecedented” Number of Shareholders Reject Re-election of Walmart Directors

Top Walmart executives and the Board of Directors faced a sharp rebuke from shareholders when votes were counted after Walmart’s Annual Shareholders Meeting, held last Friday in Fayetteville, Arkansas. According to the Associated Press, many of the company’s directors up for re-election, including CEO Mike Duke, Chairman and Walton heir Rob Walton, former CEO H. Lee Scott and Audit Committee chair Chris Williams, received unprecedentedly high rates of disapproval from shareholders.

Notably, 15.6% of shares were voted against former CEO Scott. He was at the helm in 2005-2006, when the company’s Mexican subsidiary allegedly paid over $24 million in bribes to local officials, in potential violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and executives covered the story up after a whistle-blower exposed the bribery internally. Roughly 13% of shares were voted against Duke, Walton and Williams.

In response to the bribery allegations, which are currently under investigation by the Department of Justice, the SEC and various Mexican agencies, many of the country’s largest public pension funds – including CalSTRS, CalPERS, and New York City Pension Funds – publicly announced in recent weeks that they would vote against some or all existing board members. Two prominent proxy advisory firms, ISS and Glass Lewis & Co., advocated against reelection of multiple directors. Worker activists who are members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) also waged a get-out-the-vote campaign among employee shareholders before the meeting, urging them to vote against several board members.

The disapproving votes are largely symbolic, as the Walton Family owns just under half of the company’s shares, making it all but impossible for shareholders to fight nominations that company insiders support. Excluding these family and insider shares, 38% of shares were voted against Scott and 31-32% voted against Walton, Duke and Williams. In contrast, last year Walmart’s board, who are re-elected every year, received an average of 98.4% support.

For the annual shareholders meeting the company flew in thousands of hand-picked Walmart employee shareholders from around the world to fill the seats of the Bud Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Despite the friendly crowd and the star-studded cast of performers, including Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Celine Dion, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Juanes, as well as a prerecorded video from Bill Clinton, there was no getting around the company’s management issues in the meeting. Walton, Duke and other execs were forced to mention the bribery scandal multiple times, and they awkwardly stressed the importance of “integrity” during the meeting and in activities for associates earlier in the week. Employee shareholder Jackie Goebel, an OUR Walmart member and 24-year Walmart veteran, mentioned the scandal in her 3-minute shareholder proposal presentation advocating for increased transparency and strictness in the calculation of executive compensation. Goebel also received spontaneous applause from the crowd when she mentioned problems with scheduling and under-staffing in stores across the country.

This post was written by Rebecca Cassler.

6 thoughts on ““Unprecedented” Number of Shareholders Reject Re-election of Walmart Directors

  1. its about time changes r made! we were spending 200.00 or more @ walmart weekly not anymore!!! hopefully these changes will prove  the walmart should b! w/o its customers u would b nowhare! right now i have to agree with my great granddaughter christina, walmart suks!!!

    • it is time time to Change Walmart into Unionize Walmart Store by make Walmart give all Walmart and all Sam’s Club Workers a Living Wage With Affordable Healthcare right of away and right now please without close down all the Walmart Store and all the Sam’s Wholesale Club

                                      Thank You Very Much from Tom P Noonan                                   

  2. The wise folks of WI have handed the unions another crushing defeat by reelecting the Governor and Lt. Governor. Unions have spent over $45 MILLION of their member’s dues and countless of their time and ended up with zero results. They have embarrassed themselves horribly and caused the taxpayers to waste another $17 MILLION. Looks like the common folks don’t appreciate others running through the capital buildings beating on 5 gallon buckets with wooden spoons. Taxpayers in several very liberal CA cities also rolled back these unsustainable union pensions. This is what democracy really looks like. Some are predicting that this will break the backs of the public sector unions just like has happened to the private sector unions as they caused their companies to go bankrupt. Look at steel, autos, and grocery chains. All are just shells of their former selves. Inefficient work rules and unsustainable retirement and healthcare plans are killing the tax payers who are overburdened with these huge costs. Taxpayer are not going to keep working into their 70’s so their public service employees can retire in their 50’s. These early retirements and gold plated healthcare plans are going the way of the dodo bird. Get ready to retire at 66 and get ready to be converted to a 401k. Defined benefit plans will soon be gone.  

    • it is time to Change Walmart into United Food and Commercial Workers Unionize Walmart Store for all Walmart Cashier Workers and for all Walmart Pharmacy Workers and for all Walmart Produce Workers and for all Deli Department Workers and for all Walmart Bakery Department Workers and for all Walmart Sale Association Workers and for all Walmart Clothing Department Workers, it is time to Change Walmart into Teamster Unionize Walmart Store for all Walmart and all Sam’s Club Truck Driver Workers and for all Walmart Hardware Department Workers and for all Walmart Gardening Department Workers and for all Walmart Stock Person Workers and for all Walmart Customer Service Desk Workers and for all Walmart Courtesy Association Workers and for all Walmart Maintenance Association Workers and for all Sam’s Club Forklift Driver@Stock Person Workers and for all Sam’s Club Maintenance Workers and for all Sam’s Club Cashier Workers and for all Sam’s Club Pharmacy Workers and for all Sam’s Club Meat Cutter@Meat Wrapper Workers and for all Walmart Produce Workers and for all Walmart Cafe Workers and for all Sam’s Club Bakery Department Workers and for all for all Sam’s Club Membership Desk Workers and for all Sam’s Club Cart Attendant Workers, it is time to Change Walmart into Communication Workers for all Walmart and all Sam’s Club Electronics Workers, it is time to Change Walmart into United Auto Workers unionize Walmart Store for all Walmart Tire@Lube Express Workers and for all Sam’s Club Tire @Vehicle Battery Installment Workers by make Walmart give all Walmart and all Sam’s Club Workers a Living Wage With Affordable Healthcare right of away and right now please without close down all the Walmart Store and all Sam’s Wholesale Club, 

      Thank You Very Much United Food And Commercial Workers And Teamster Union And OUR Walmart For Trying Making A Better Place to Work For All Walmart And All Sam’s Club Workers

                                From Tom P Noonan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>