I will speak in favor of our shareholder proposal that asks for a report on Wal-Mart’s lobbying priorities at the company’s annual meeting on Friday, June 4 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It will take place in the Bud Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas from 7a.m. Central Time to about 11a.m. A live webcast of the meeting will be available on the company’s website at www.walmartstores.com/investors.
NLPC is a critic of Wal-Mart’s embrace of Left-wing political and social causes, a trend initiated by former CEO H. Lee Scott and accelerated under CEO Mike Duke.
Our statement of support for the resolution appearing in the proxy reads:
The Company’s public policy positions and related advocacy activities should be developed and prioritized based on market and fact-based analyses and not on pressure from politicians, union bosses, or anti-business activists who are hostile to Wal-Mart and its business model.
In a June 30, 2009 letter to Barack Obama, the Wal-Mart CEO endorsed an employer mandate on business for health care coverage. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Retail Federation all oppose such an employer mandate.
The Wal-Mart letter was co-signed by Andrew Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and John Podesta, President of the Center for American Progress (CAP).
SEIU funds Wal-Mart Watch, a vociferous Wal-Mart critic. SEIU has a long relationship with the scandal-plagued Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Both SEIU and CAP promote “card check.” CAP is funded in part by the foundation of billionaire George Soros.
According to the Wal-Mart 2009 Sustainability Report:
“Currently, we are…supporting legislation in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — including the enactment of a well-designed cap-and-trade system.”
Cap and trade would raise costs for all businesses. A 2009 Heritage Foundation study estimated that the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, for instance, would destroy over 1.1 million jobs, hike electricity rates 90 percent, and reduce U.S. gross domestic product by nearly $10 trillion over the next 25 years.
At the same time, Wal-Mart has had a far lower profile on issues like tort liability reform, corporate taxation, capital gains tax increase, double taxation of dividends, and other issues of importance to the Company and its shareholders.
Embracing public policy positions that are contrary to the economic interests of consumers who buy Company products, or the preservation of the free-enterprise system as a whole, harms shareholder value.
Absent a system of reporting, shareholders cannot properly evaluate the Company’s process by which it takes, prioritizes and promotes its public policy positions.
Is Wal-Mart Too Liberal? (Newsweek)