California State Controller Steve Westly circulated a letter to trustees of the $186 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, urging Wal-Mart Corp. executives to immediately address employee complaints of exploitation, sexual discrimination and child labor law violations, said Russ Lopez, communications director for Mr. Westly.
Mr. Westly, who is also a trustee of the $123.5 billion California State Teachers Retirement System, Sacramento, would like the retailer to form a special committee of independent directors to conduct a comprehensive review, he said. "I am alarmed that this retail giant continues along a path that is affecting the company's image and shareholder confidence," he said.
CalPERS holds 21.1 million shares of Wal-Mart stock, said Brad Pacheco, CalPERS spokesman. CalSTRS owns 20.6 million shares.
Last week, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, who oversees the $85 billion New York City Retirement Systems, asked for a similar review from Wal-Mart executives. Mr. Thompson was joined by a coalition that included Edward M. Smith, chairman of the $10.8 billion Illinois State Board of Investment, Chicago; Karina Litvack, head of governance and socially responsible investing of F&C Asset Management; and Jason Fletcher, Americas equity manager for the $36 billion U.K. Universities Superannuation Scheme, Liverpool. They collectively represent holdings of more than 11.4 million Wal-Mart shares.