I am writing to you as a 21-year Walmart associate, Walmart shareholder, and the sponsor of Proposal 5 on Walmart’s proxy statement for the upcoming annual meeting of shareholders, which asks the company to establish a Pandemic Workforce Advisory Council composed of hourly associates.
I have decades of experience working on the front lines of Walmart’s business, helping to keep stores running and serving customers. I understand firsthand the day-to-day operations inside Walmart stores and I believe Walmart’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has failed me, my co-workers, and customers alike. It also presents significant risks to shareholders.
Walmart recently ended its mask mandates and daily health screenings for employees, but what I find most troubling is that they eliminated the COVID-19 leave policy that I, and so many of my coworkers, depend on when things get really scary in our stores.
Walmart’s business is still being impacted by variants. The company has been temporarily shutting down stores across the country for deep cleanings, but according to press reports the company won’t disclose to employees or customers whether store closures are related to COVID-19 cases or exposure. What we do know from these reports is that Walmart associates are still getting sick at work.
For the world’s largest retailer and private sector employer, mismanagement of the pandemic poses fundamental risks to the company. The attached report details concerns Walmart associates have about the company’s handling of the crisis, including the absence of honest, direct communication loops between leadership and workers, and outlines the benefits of including employee perspectives in policy creation and implementation.
As Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton, said: “The folks on the front lines, the ones who actually talk to the customer, are the only ones who really know what’s going on out there. You’d better find out what they know”. Unfortunately, Walmart leadership’s disregard for employee perspectives predates the current crisis, and its failure in the current moment has only magnified the risks to customers, associates, and shareholders.
A Pandemic Workforce Advisory Council made up of hourly associates could help address the myriad challenges Walmart faces at this moment. As a long-time Walmart associate, I am committed to my job, my store, and my community. My interests in Walmart’s long-term success are both as an employee and as a shareholder. Associate input can help the Board manage risks, identify opportunities, repair Walmart’s reputation, and support sound decision-making that will guide our company through this crisis, and future ones.
Therefore, I ask you to Vote FOR Proposal 5.