Just Weeks after Protests at Walmart’s own Shareholders Meeting, Walmart Worker Questions Mayer’s Involvement on Walmart Board of Directors Confrontation Follows Five Arrests Monday at Walmart Associate-Led Protests at Yahoo Headquarters
Santa Clara, CA – Today, at Yahoo’s annual shareholders meeting Walmart Associates and their supporters used the opportunity to question Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer about her involvement as a member of Walmart’s Board of Directors. Workers and community members raised concerns about her involvement in decision-making at the nation’s largest private employer, which is facing pressure both from its employees and community groups over the company’s business practices at home and overseas.
Several Walmart Associates, among them Barbara Collins, a Walmart associate from Placerville, California and member of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), a national organization of Walmart associates speaking out for a stronger company and economy, asked Marissa Mayer pointed questions about whether her involvement with Walmart represented a reputational risk for Yahoo. Collins was one of five people arrested at a dramatic protest on Monday at Yahoo Inc. headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. The protest called attention to Mayer’s silence as the retail giant bullies its employees.
Collins gave voice to growing concerns that Mayer and other members of Walmart’s board have remained silent even as the company contends with widespread protests against its treatment of its workers, plummeting customer service ratings and weak store sales due to understaffing, and preventable tragedies in the supply chain.
OUR Walmart members and supporters nationwide have been calling for the company to end retaliation against employees and publicly commit to providing full-time work with a minimum salary of $25,000 a year so workers don’t have to rely on taxpayer funded programs to support their families. As the nation’s largest private employer, a change of course at Walmart would have a direct impact on millions of working families and the economy as a whole.
“As a working mom, Marissa Mayer is a unique voice on the Walmart Board of Directors,” said Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice. “She can be an advocate for Walmart parents who are asking for regular schedules and enough hours to provide for their children. It’s time for her to recognize that too many Walmart workers have to rely on public assistance to make ends meet, and it’s time for a change.”
A new report released by the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce found that the costs to taxpayers at just one Walmart store as a result of inadequate wages and benefits is about $1 million.
In an outpouring of support at last week’s Netroots Nation, hundreds of progressive journalists, activists, and other supporters posted on social media photographs of themselves calling on Mayer to meet with Walmart workers and support their calls for change at the company.
Today’s events at the Yahoo shareholders’ meeting comes on the heels of Walmart’s own shareholders’ meeting, which was the focus of striking Walmart Associates’ “Ride for Respect.” The “Ride for Respect” was a weeklong, nationwide caravan in the spirit of the civil rights movement during which workers and supporters traveled to Walmart’s shareholders’ meeting in Bentonville, AR to call for an end to retaliation against workers and voice the direct impact that Walmart is having on their lives and the economy.
“Walmart’s outrageous suppression of its workers’ freedom of speech shows just how far out of step this company is with American values of freedom and respect for hard work. It’s unacceptable that a company with $16 billion in profits is bullying working families just trying to make ends meet and keep food on the table,” said Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “We’re not going to stand for it – we’re going to stand up to Walmart’s illegal behavior until they stand down and respect workers’ rights to speak out.”
UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.