With well over 11,000 stores in roughly 27 countries, Walmart is the world’s largest retailer. Walmart’s influence on both suppliers and distributors in the food chain gives it incredible power in the global food system. Unfortunately, Walmart and its suppliers have routinely violated its own code of ethics, recently the company has demonstrated some willingness to improve its supply chain standards and wages for 500,000 of its employees.
Walmart’s commitments to improving standards appear to be mostly a public relations stunt and haven’t translated to improvements in conditions for most of its food supply chain. Walmart now has an opportunity to wield its power to the benefit of workers, farmers, communities, and the environment.
On June 4, the Food Chain Workers Alliance released a report entitled “Walmart at the Crossroads: the Environmental and Labor Impact of Its Food Supply Chain.” The report assesses the labor conditions of workers in Walmart’s food supply chain as well as the company’s environmental impact worldwide. Labor and the environment are the main focuses of this report because they are two key issues that impact us all as consumers and community members.
Walmart’s business model is based on using its size to extract the lowest price from suppliers. This creates the conditions to force suppliers to cut costs, which often means cutting wages for workers, lowering prices to farmers, and externalizing costs on to the environment and the communities surrounding the suppliers’ business.
Sign our petition asking Walmart to make changes that will improve the environment and the lives of farmers, workers, and communities!
We request that Walmart CEO Doug McMillon make following improvements in Walmart’s supply chain:
- Improve supply chain transparency. Suppliers should be required to identify the names and addresses of all factories, farms, fishing vessels, or other entities that contribute to the product being purchased before a supplier contract is awarded.
- Create an independent, third-party monitoring entity that includes workers, workers’ organizations, and environmental justice organizations in governance, oversight, and on-the-ground monitoring and whose role and function is separate and distinct from the Walmart Corporation.
- Ensure that the farmers, ranchers, and fishers included in its supply chain receive long-term contracts and are paid a fair price for what they raise or harvest that reflects their cost of production and includes labor at a fair wage
- Require that suppliers pay at least $15 per hour to their employees in the U.S. and comparable living wages in other countries, provide paid sick days and other benefits, and respect workers’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining
- Prevent labor contracting abuse by requiring that any costs incurred for recruiting workers be borne by the employer, not the workers. Ensure that all workers have access to a contract that clearly outlines conditions of employment in a language they can understand, with regular pay stubs that itemize and explain any deductions.
- Establish a complaint-driven investigation and remediation process that allows any person or organization to flag when a contractor or subcontractor is failing to comply with the terms of the supplier contract.
- Ensure that exploited workers have access to appropriate remedies and support services and are not left in situations that expose them to further exploitation.
- Mandate that antibiotics can be only used for sick animals and add standards related to the humane treatment of animals that also require improvement in the underlying conditions of how animals raise which currently encourage the routine use of antibiotics.
- Prioritize purchasing food from farmers and fishers that use sustainable agriculture and aquaculture practices, such as organic, biodynamic, non-toxic bio-intensive integrated pest management, farm diversification, and small-scale farming/fishing.
Respect the Environment:
- Make a real investment in renewable energy.
- Stop paving fields and forests for new stores.
- Make a rapid and significant reduction in the use of coal as an energy source.
Respect the voices of its store employees by:
- Respecting the rights of Walmart workers to organize and speak out and end illegal retaliation.
- Instate a $15 per hour minimum wage at its U.S. facilities and comparable living wages at its other stores around the world.
- Revise scheduling practices to offer full-time status to any associate who wants a full-time position who has worked at Walmart for over one year.
- Establish a 40-hour minimum for associates with full-time status.