Pension fund dumps Wal-Mart over labor issues

A $183 billion group is halting its investments, saying the retailer wouldn't discuss its concerns about workers.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 3, 2013 3:19PM

Wal-Mart store in Secaucus, New Jersey / Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesWal-Mart's (WMT) labor policies have earned it both haters and fans. Critics decry the retail giant's low wages and resistance to worker unions, while supporters praise it for employing so many people who might otherwise be jobless. 


Now a $183 billion pension fund is joining the haters. Dutch pension fund PGGM says Wal-Mart is on its exclusion list because the retailer "was not prepared to take PGGM's concerns about the company's tense labor relations in its domestic market into consideration." 


It added that a second motivation for the decision was that Wal-Mart's board "was not willing to participate in fruitful dialogues with its shareholders." Those positions are leading PGGM to sell the roughly $260 million in Wal-Mart shares it had held for clients, Bloomberg adds. 


Chief among its complaints is Wal-Mart's resistance to unions, which the fund said is "contrary to fundamental principles and rights at work." It also said it didn't get a response to inquiries about Wal-Mart's bribery allegations in Mexico.


Many consumers love Wal-Mart for its low prices, but some critics point out that those bargains have a steep cost. Workers are often pushed to accept public aid, including food stamps, because they don't earn enough on their meager wages, according to a June report from congressional Democrats. 


A single Wal-Mart Supercenter store in Wisconsin may require taxpayers to pay as much as $1.7 million per year in aid, the report said. 


As Bloomberg Businesweek noted, Wal-Mart has a long history of resisting unionization, stemming as far back as 1970, when an attorney hired by founder Sam Walton called the unions blood-sucking parasites.


Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 


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43Comments
Jul 3, 2013 4:23PM
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I would say WalMart is a blood sucking parasite on every community that has one.  It ruins jobs, small business, and lowers the incomes of everyone in the community.  They sell crap for ridiculous prices and people eat it up.  They have most of Congress on a leash, to make sure they can keep on with their practice of paying people as little as possible.  While Walton's and their executive staff are making a ton of money.  They would not have to raise prices to grant their workers a better wage, they would just have to learn to live on a few billion less a year. 

 

Jul 3, 2013 4:33PM
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Shop at Walmart?  shoot yourself in the foot.  Same thing.  Your not doing yourself any favors shopping there.
Jul 3, 2013 4:28PM
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Why not mention all the billions the Walton family reaps from selling cheap Chinese junk, as well as having taxpayers subsidize their employees' low wages with SNAP and emergency room health care. All some people think about, like those posting earlier, is their own simplistic views about unions and selfish greed.
Jul 3, 2013 3:53PM
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Liars. They're dumping it because they bought WMT in the low $60's and are selling in the mid $70's. 
Jul 3, 2013 6:35PM
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MIRAGE GUY;You sure hate the common man.You seem to think there`s a commi

under every rock.People like you that hate unions should try to live on $3 an hour.

How many cars and houses would get sold in the this country if everybody made

those crap wages?You idiots never thought that out.

Jul 5, 2013 12:06AM
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It's a job in retail.  Unless you sell gold or diamonds and get a large commission check, you should not expect much from a retail job anywhere.
Jul 5, 2013 12:26PM
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You get what you pay for... If you walk into a Walmart, you get uninspired workers, poor service, like they were in a sweat shop.... Most stores smell like dirty socks and aren't very clean, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, pay for clean friendly sharp employees, and it will come back to you tenfold,I'd use the burger chain In and Out as a solid example, they pay theses kids above market wages but get back smiling fun happy employees, and lots of return customers. You get what you pay for.
Jul 5, 2013 10:26AM
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what is with all the anti-union rants today? The answer is simple, people ask for unionization when working conditions are unsafe, when people are not paid a living wage, or when there are other SERIOUS issues, not just for kicks. Meet your employees needs and unions are not needed, that's the reason not all jobs in the us NEED unions. Ask anyone that belongs to one, they are a pain, but in some cases they are still the best option. I live in a small town and 10 years ago it was the WORKERS at walmart that were saying please, we really don't want a union. Now things have changed, insurance became crap, wages have actually DROPPED, and I don't just mean adjusted for inflation, I mean starting wage has dropped, raises are at smaller percentages, now it's the employees that want a union, because conditions have detereated that much. The store manager quit because he wouldn't be apart of things. No, unions aren't' the problem, just a symptom. Greed and disregard are the issues.

Jul 3, 2013 8:24PM
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"Chief among its complaints is Wal-Mart's resistance to unions, which the fund said is "contrary to fundamental principles and rights at work."

This thinking, pretty standard in Europe -which has raised its avg. income from 62% to 81% of the USA since Reagan sent us on the more-for-the-top-1% road.  It used to be standard thinking in the USA until the "Boss Hogg" southern-attitude that the plutocracy knows best has infected much of the country.
Jul 6, 2013 5:02PM
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PGGM's clients should pull their pensions from the fund. Social concerns are secondary to monetary concerns especially when it's a monetary concern. Pensions are monetary concerns.
Jul 5, 2013 9:48PM
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The blood sucking parasite is Wal-Mart, which, by paying so little that taxpayers have to pay for their employees health care, and food stamps! corporate welfare! Unfair!
Jul 5, 2013 10:46PM
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Well now! I figured out Wal*Marts angle. Fire the Paula Deen line for racial slurs, but doesn't give employees fair rights. Falls in line with the racial suits as current as 2013. It would mean potential business losses. Nobody really cares if Walmart employees get living wages, they know if wages go up, price goes up. That is a much hard fight, but none the less true. The company in question, PGGM, must see not only ethical concerns, but also monetary concerns due to turnover. An investment company wants experienced employees to invest in. It makes more money to have someone working with a place for 10+ years as part of the long term investment. Since Walmart has a 70% turnover rate after one year according to PBS.org. It's no wonder why PGGM made the decision. It's kinda like why bother in investing in pension portfolios with such a high rate of turnover and low return. 
Jul 7, 2013 9:38AM
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It's a red herring. There is an economic reason they dumped Walmart. Walmart is overvalued and other stocks are a better value. The money will go somewhere. This will all make sense when you compare what was bought and what was sold and it will have nothing to do with labor.
Jul 3, 2013 4:23PM
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Walmart does not have a labor problem. Organized labor has a problem with Walmart's lack of labor problems.
Jul 4, 2013 5:48PM
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Right on PGGM!  I haven't stepped foot in a MalWart for years.  WalMart is thee one entity mostly responsible for the lower standard of living of the average American.  It is The Evil Empire:  Owned by the  wealthiest family in the world and possessing the most U.S. workers paid below poverty-level wages, not to mention all of the other workers around the world working (slaving, really) in it's sweat shops.  BOYCOTT WALMART, the consequences of it's "lower prices" are not worth the price in human misery.
Jul 5, 2013 11:54AM
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So are Walmart employees lazy because they are forced onto government assistance, by a greedy Board and CEO? Awaiting the elitist's on an answer back.
Jul 6, 2013 9:56AM
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unemployment fall because the benefits ran out. lower paying jobs , and higher cost for ever thing were is that report. we all need to stand up and speaks up and tell our govment . we are the people we are strong we need to stand up and tell them. many of us work at a place a that we can not afford to go to that is not right. many work in foods that can not afford to put on the table for food. some work in dr office or some type of health care and can not afford to get sick them self. and many other out there are the same we need to stand up and said we are the people and we have enough is enough
Jul 6, 2013 9:20AM
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You indorse it with your continued business, so whose fault is it really?
Jul 9, 2013 8:19AM
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I never shop there.  Can't stand that company.  I'll pay a little more.
Jul 6, 2013 2:49PM
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Saving up to buy your heart desired properties is not that easy, so pick up a low interest loan and pay back over a spread out period., if you have interest in a very low interest rate loan, contact me on eltonmacphine@gmail.com
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