Walmart shareholder meeting to hold votes on workplace safety, China risk

Walmart shareholder meeting to hold votes on workplace safety, China risk

FILE PHOTO: A Walmart sign is seen inside its department store where the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is available as Walmart and other major U.S. pharmacies take part in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, to increase vaccinations in t


By Siddharth Cavale

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Walmart (NYSE:WMT) Inc shareholders will be asked to vote on a number of new proposals including revealing its exposure to China and conducting an independent review of its safety practices related to gun violence at its annual general meeting next month, a securities filing on Thursday showed.

Investors will have until the end of May 30 to vote on eight shareholder proposals, the company filing said, two more than the number of proposals filed last year.

The National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative group, urged Walmart to “report annually to shareholders on the nature and extent to which corporate operations depend on, and are vulnerable to, Communist China, which is a serial human rights violator, a geopolitical threat, and an adversary to the United States.”

The proposal, which termed doing business with China “controversial, if not dangerous,” was similar to its failed proposal at Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and comes at a time of deteriorating U.S.-China relations – the worst since the countries established diplomatic relations in 1979, according to many analysts.

Walmart asked shareholders to vote against the proposal, saying it believed the request for an “open-ended” annual report was “unwarranted,” and that it has been transparent in reporting key business risks and following human rights policies.

Walmart does not break out sales in China, where it operates nearly 400 stores and clubs. It recently noted that it “still thinks it has a lot of runway” in the country.The late Thursday filing also revealed a proposal from a Walmart worker, Cynthia Murray, who asked the company to “conduct a third-party, independent review” of the impact its policies and practices have on workplace violence.

Murray urged Walmart to review its existing workplace safety plans following a mass shooting incident in November at a store in Chesapeake, Virginia, where seven people were killed.

Walmart in response said such a report would not help uphold its commitment to protecting the health and safety of its associates and urged shareholders to vote against it.

The two new proposals are among eight resolutions that challenge Walmart on other issues including reproductive rights and data privacy. But with about 50% of Walmart’s stock controlled by the Walton family, the bar for any effort to win a majority of investor support is high.

(This story has been corrected to change the number of proposals to 8, not 7, in paragraphs 2 and 10)


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