June 2, 2005

Annual Shareholders Meeting

Wal-Mart's annual shareholder meeting is Friday. Here is a list of links, which will be continually updated over the next few days:

1) The melting pot:

Mickey Finn�s Irish Pub on Dickson Street was packed with Wal-Mart employees Tuesday night. "It was probably the funnest night I�ve ever had in my life," said Mickey Finn�s bartender Adam Linz. "You�ve got Japanese, Mexicans, Brazilians, Canadians, Americans and Irish all in one itty-bitty place � all getting along. It was the best atmosphere I�ve been around in a while." Linz said he rang up triple the business of a normal Tuesday night.

2) Groups complain:

The group Wake-Up Wal-Mart, backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, staged events Wednesday to call for states to adopt legislation that would require Wal-Mart to provide employees affordable health care.

Wake-Up Wal-Mart director Paul Blank said the group wants to do more than create media pressure on the Bentonville-based retailer.

"It is a little bit broader than public opinion. This is a grass roots movement across the country of Americans who want to change Wal-Mart," Blank said.

Blank said Wal-Mart should set the standard for how workers in the nation are treated and should sacrifice profits to help ensure its workers live above the poverty line.

3) Standards Review

A group of Wal-Mart investors led by city controller William Thompson and Illinois State Investment Board chairman Edward Smith called on the company's board to name a committee of independent directors to review the retailer's legal and regulatory controls.

The group, which controls $545.8 million of Wal-Mart shares, said in a statement it was concerned by the government's investigation into the use of illegal immigrants to clean Wal-Mart stores. The retailer paid $11 million to settle that case.

4) Rob Walton shows humility:

"They're not standing in line for lower pay or less benefits," said Lawrence Jackson, executive vice president of human resources, which Wal-Mart calls its "people division."

But the loudest cheer was reserved for a moment of humility when Chairman Rob Walton acknowledged that executives were "human" and "sometimes we make mistakes."

Protesters were nowhere in sight at the University of Arkansas basketball arena where the meeting was held, although some marched through Fayetteville on Thursday night with banners criticizing Wal-Mart's pay and benefits.

5) Martha Burke has her say:

A feminist leader drew rounds of applause from Wal-Mart shareholders Friday as she chided company managers for having only two women on its 14-member board. In the end, Wal-Mart asked shareholders to reject initiatives she backed.

Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, said Wal-Mart should give a breakdown, by race and gender, on how stock options are distributed.

Posted by Kevin on June, 2 2005 at 08:57 AM