State of Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds, Hartford, and the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, Evanston, Ill., joined with other members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility to file five shareholder resolutions at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., seeking to change its compensation and business practices. "These resolutions involve not only basic questions of justice but also questions by shareholders of the value of shares declining," said Sister Patricia Wolf, executive director of the ICCR, which is coordinating the shareholder effort. She noted that Wal-Mart shares have declined since H. Lee Scott Jr. became president and CEO in January 2000.
A Wal-Mart SEC filing shows the shareholder return declined for the five years ended Jan. 31, 2005, and that the firm underperformed the S&P 500 retailing index in the same period.
The $22.74 billion Connecticut fund joined the lead filer, the $13.9 billion United Methodist retirement fund, along with other religious groups and money managers as co-filers for a proposal asking the Wal-Mart board to prepare a report for shareholders on strategies concerning economic, social and environmental issues.
Another proposal asks the Wal-Mart board to undertake a study of compensation disparity, reporting on the total compensation provided to the company's top executives in comparison with the lowest paid worker. Other proposals deal with equal employment opportunity and product safety, and one asks the Wal-Mart board to report on the public health impact of the company's employees accounting for a disproportionate share of government health care services.
"ICCR members have meet with Wal-Mart senior management (including Mr. Scott)," said Sister Wolf. "ICCR is very engaged with the company and is hoping to make more progress this year."
A call to Wal-Mart was directed to Gail Lavielle, spokeswoman, who wasn't available for immediate comment.