WASHINGTON--()--Leaders of the Making Change at Walmart campaign hailed the news that one of the largest pension funds in the world has decided to divest from Walmart stores. Algemeen Burgerlijk Pensioenfonds (ABP) announced today that the retirement fund would no longer invest in the retail giant due to the company’s repeated violation of international labor standards. The fund, which has over $300 billion in assets and is the third largest in the world, had over $147 million invested in Walmart as of September 30, 2011.
“This is an important day for Walmart associates who want to be treated with respect”
“This is an important day for Walmart associates who want to be treated with respect,” said Jennifer Stapleton, assistant director of Making Change at Walmart. “We’re pleased to see that ABP realizes that Walmart might be saying the right thing about respecting workers, but continues to engage in all kinds of bad behavior. This should send a clear message to Walmart and its shareholders: treating workers poorly is bad for business.”
Last October, Walmart associates brought that message to company shareholders during the annual analyst meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas. Workers testified about the unfair tactics deployed by management against employees. One of those workers, Ernestine Bassett, hailed today’s decision.
“I’ve been targeted for simply talking to my co-workers about working together to improve things at our store,” said Bassett, an associate at the Walmart store in Laurel, Maryland and a leader in the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), a nationwide movement of Walmart associates working together to improve their work environments and their lives. “I’m subject to all kinds of arbitrary discipline and unfairly written up by management. In fact, my managers often refuse to let me go to the bathroom, despite the fact that I have diabetes. I’m glad that ABP has heard the cry for respect coming from Walmart workers.”
Walmart is one of only five American companies to be blacklisted by the Dutch pension fund in 2012. (The other four companies are engaged in the production of clusterbombs.) ABP also cited PetroChina, an oil company with holdings in the Sudan and Burma.
Making Change at Walmart seeks to promote the American values of equality, dignity and respect in the workplace. The campaign is making change by working directly with Walmart associates to claim the respect on the job they deserve, holding Walmart corporate managers accountable to hourly employees and the public for their practices, and joining with community leaders in major cities across America to make sure that any new jobs offered by Walmart meet strong standards for healthy, growing communities.