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April 25, 2012

Statement by UFCW International President Joe Hansen Calling for Walmart CEO and Board Chair Resignations

(Washington, D.C.) – Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Chair of Change to Win, today released the following statement to join Walmart associates in the demand for leadership changes at the retail giant.“The corruption scandal and reported cover-up exposed an unacceptable failure of leadership within Walmart. Walmart Chairman Rob Walton and CEO Mike Duke must resign immediately in an effort to restore integrity and accountability for Walmart associates, shareholders, customers, and communities. “The New York Times exposed a widespread pattern of Walmart executives bribing government officials to secure permits to build stores in Mexico, followed by a cover-up led by corporate leaders including Duke and Walton. The article raises serious questions about whether Walmart has used the same tactics for its expansion in the United States and across the globe. “For decades, Walmart has pursued a growth-at-any-cost strategy in cities and towns across the United States and globally. In the U.S., we have watched Walmart secure the building permits, variances, and zoning changes to open its stores, in spite of concerted community opposition.“The public deserves a wholly independent and thorough investigation of Walmart’s practices. Communities across the globe should take heed of Walmart’s reported unlawful and unethical practices in Mexico, as the company works at a rapid pace to in expand its retail stores in South Africa, India, and China, to name a few, in addition to its global supply chain operations.”

April 24, 2012

UFCW PRESIDENT JOE HANSEN ON DEFEAT OF ANTI-WORKER RESOLUTION IN SENATE

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Chair of Change to Win, today released the following statement after the Senate defeated a resolution by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) that would have overturned a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule streamlining the voting process for workers to form unions.

“I am pleased that the Senate defeated this transparently anti-worker resolution. Senator Enzi and his allies have a clear goal in mind: to legislate unions out of existence. It’s no different than what is being done by Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) at statehouses across the country. This NLRB rule is a modest step toward improving the rights of workers to organize. It will help eliminate some of the unnecessary delays and frivolous lawsuits that prevent workers from receiving a fair and timely election. But make no mistake, the NLRB union election process still overwhelmingly favors employers who control workers’ schedules and opportunities for raises and promotions. Majority sign-up, binding arbitration, and true employer neutrality are all still needed to make the system even remotely fair. With this charade over, it is time for the Senate to get to work creating jobs and opportunity for the American people.”

April 23, 2012

Statement by UFCW International President Joe Hansen on Walmart

(Washington, D.C.) – Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Chair of Change to Win, today released the following statement in response to the New York Times expose of Walmart’s corruption and purported cover-up by senior company officials.

“The New York Times story about the Walmart Mexico corruption scandal and reported cover-up exposes serious violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and demands an immediate and thorough investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Walmart senior management exposed its lack of corporate morality and internal ethics to workers, shareholders, consumers and community members.

“Walmart has spent millions of dollars to rehabilitate its image and buy the support of key allies in an effort to break into new markets while making promises about the benefits of its business model. But by pursuing a relentless strategy in the U.S. and abroad of ‘growth at any cost’ in pursuit of profits, Walmart’s senior management has proven that it is willing to trample on worker rights, discriminate against women, damage small businesses and the environment, and now potentially violate laws in the U.S., Mexico and other countries.

“The reported cover-up by Walmart executives at the highest levels exposes a core truth: Walmart cannot be taken at its word. A Department of Justice investigation into foreign bribery is an urgently needed first step. Congress should immediately convene hearings to examine whether Walmart is using these unethical business practices in their U.S. operations.”</p

April 20, 2012

UFCW APPLAUDS USDA FOR EXTENDING COMMENT PERIOD ON POULTRY INSPECTION RULE

WASHINGTON, D.C.Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), released the following statement regarding the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to extend the comment period on its proposed poultry inspection rule.

“The UFCW applauds Secretary Tom Vilsack’s decision to extend the comment period on USDA’s proposed poultry inspection rule in order to further study its impact on worker safety. We have said all along that this rule should be halted until it is proven that increased line speeds are safe for workers. The UFCW will use this 30-day extension to work directly with USDA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Obama Administration to determine a course of action to study the probable effects of increased line speeds on worker health and safety. Today is a victory for all poultry workers who can rest assured that their safety on the job is being taken seriously.”

April 18, 2012

Statement from UFCW International President Joe Hansen on Final NLRB Election Rule

(Washington, D.C.) — Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union, today released the following statement after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approved a final rule to modernize the union election process.

“”This NLRB rule is a modest but important first step toward ensuring a level playing field for workers in the union election process. Preventing unnecessary delays and frivolous litigation means less time for employers to intimidate, harass, and in some cases fire pro-union employees. Every worker has the right to decide whether he or she wants a union, free of interference.

“Now it is time for the Senate to confirm President Obama’s nominees to the NLRB. Leaving the Board short of a quorum in 2012 is unacceptable.”

April 17, 2012

UFCW PRESIDENT JOE HANSEN ON THE BUFFETT RULE

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Chair of Change to Win, today released the following statement after the Senate defeated the Buffett Rule to ensure millionaires pay at least 30 percent in income taxes.

“Congress hit a new level of dysfunction today by failing to pass the Buffett Rule. Hamstrung by the Senate’s arcane rules, Democrats were unable to get the votes needed to overcome a procedural hurdle. Nonetheless, they should be commended for trying. The overwhelming majority of Senate and House Republicans, on the other hand, have no interest in tax fairness. Their policies have widened the gap between the rich and the poor and bankrupted our country. Mitt Romney has proposed to take these failed policies even further, advocating a 7 percent tax cut for the superrich. The Buffett Rule is common sense. It’s too bad Congressional Republicans and their standard bearer don’t have any.”

April 17, 2012

Concerned over Walmart’s performance, shareholder associates file new resolution on executive pay

Concerned over the consistent underperformance of Walmart, four Walmart Associates who are shareholders have filed a resolution that will be voted on by all shareholders calling on the Wal-Mart board to review executive performance pay goals to ensure they are not creating incentives that undermine shareholder value. Today Wal-Mart Stores, Inc released its annual proxy statement to investors disclosing the annual salary paid to senior executives. According to the filing CEO Mike Duke was paid $18.1million, a slight decrease from the $18.7 million he was paid last year. Duke’s incentive compensation is largely tied to Walmart’s Return on Investment (ROI), which has been declining over the past several years. His 2012 payout would have been smaller last year had the board not lowered the target ROI, the fifth consecutive year it has done so.

Walmart shares have underperformed those of other retailers. For the three-year period ending April 12 2012, the S&P 500 Retailing index was up over 88%, while the price of Walmart shares had grown by less than 17%. Critical indicators such as same-store sales have also lagged behind other retailers, while ROI has declined for 5 years in a row. In 2011, after growing market share consistently since its founding in the 1960s, Walmart lost market share in the US for the second year in a row.

Concerns about executive pay at Walmart were raised last year when The New York Times reported that the company’s compensation committee had altered performance metrics used to award long-term incentive compensation. Specifically, by removing same-store sales from executives’ bonus formula and replacing that metric with total sales growth, The Times stated Walmart was “shifting the goal posts” on compensation policy, resulting in higher pay for CEO Mike Duke.

Shareholders will have an opportunity to weigh in on executive pay at the company this year when they cast their ballots on a new proposal which calls on the Walmart board to review executive performance pay goals to ensure they are not creating incentives that undermine shareholder value.

Mary Tifft, a 24-year Walmart employee in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and one of the shareholders who petitioned to place Proposal #6 on the ballot, said she hoped the proposal would bring more scrutiny to executive pay at Walmart. Tifft started buying Walmart shares through the company’s share purchase program in 1992, and currently owns 1,008 shares of Walmart stock.

“I’ve been a Walmart shareholder for 20 years, and an associate for even longer,” said Tifft. “Walmart used to be a good company, one that I was proud to work for, but I’m afraid the company has lost its way. We think this proposal is an important step in getting the company back on track.”

Along with Tifft, Proposal #6 is co-sponsored by Jackie Goebel, Girshriela Green and Carlton Smith, all of whom are current Walmart associates, with, collectively, over 60 years of experience with the company.

Important disclosure: The UFCW and OUR Walmart have provided technical assistance to the four shareholder sponsors of Proposal #6, and we continue to support their efforts to campaign on its behalf.

April 11, 2012

UFCW OPPOSES BIG POULTRY-DRIVEN INSPECTION RULE

WASHINGTON, DC—The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) today announced its opposition to a Big Poultry-driven inspection process being considered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The proposed rule, which would increase the speed that birds are processed from 70-91 a minute to a maximum of 175 a minute, could put workers at poultry plants in increased danger.

“Increased line speeds means increased bottom lines for Big Poultry,” said Mark Laurtisen, UFCW International Vice President and Director of the Food Processing, Packing and Manufacturing Division. “For workers, it means more danger on the job.”

By increasing line speed so dramatically, workers will be at heightened risk of repetitive motion related injuries. In fact, a recent study by Wake Forest University showed that 59 percent of poultry workers had definite or possible carpal tunnel syndrome at current line speeds. Despite these alarming statistics, no comprehensive effort has been made to determine the impact this proposed system will have on the health and safety of workers.

“Quite frankly, it is no surprise that Big Poultry wants to rush this new system into operation,” Lauritsen said. “That’s why USDA—as the responsible regulator—must slow this process down until it can guarantee that workers are protected.”

The UFCW is calling on USDA to halt this rule until the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts comprehensive studies on the impact it would have on the health and safety of workers in poultry plants. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must then use that information to develop a standard that would adequately protect workers.

Many UFCW members have already submitted their opposition to USDA in advance of the April 26 comment deadline. The UFCW will continue its push for worker safety into the summer and beyond.