Last week, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) criticized the retail giant for its attempt to silence a majority of Walmart workers’ voices by splitting the formal shareholders meeting from the annual associate celebration so that the two events took place on different dates and at different locations.
Walmart’s decision to switch the date and location for the formal shareholders meeting is a major departure from the company’s previous shareholder meetings. Traditionally, Walmart’s formal business meeting, which includes discussing and voting on shareholder proposals, has always been conducted during the main associate celebration inside the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with over 20,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club workers in attendance, as well as Walmart executives and shareholders.
During last year’s shareholders meeting, two Walmart workers spoke as proxies during the formal business portion, touching on low wages and poor benefits, and were received with cheers from the crowd of Walmart and Sam’s Club workers in the Bud Walton Arena. MCAW’s communications director also spoke on behalf of the Teamsters union, advocating its proposal for an independently elected board member.
This year, however, formal business took place in the smaller John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, Arkansas, on May 30 which resulted in a smaller, more controlled audience and excluded thousands of Walmart workers from the meeting that included comments on the company’s low wages, inconsistent and unfair scheduling, and insufficient benefits. The annual associate celebration took place at the Bud Walton Arena on June 1.
“For the first time in Walmart shareholder meeting history, Walmart’s top 1 percent has changed the rules to exclude Walmart workers from being present during business discussions on wages and other proposals that affect them on a daily basis, further silencing the voice of its workers,” said MCAW director Randy Parraz.
Throughout the shareholders meeting, MCAW released a series of statements, fact sheets and digital ads to educate the public, as well as Walmart workers and shareholders, on Walmart’s censorship of its business meeting. Additional information about MCAW’s campaign during Walmart’s shareholders meeting is available here.