Target: Steve Novick, City Commissioner in Portland, Oregon
Goal: Applaud the city’s decision to permanently phase out its investments in Walmart
Few companies have been more deliberate in their union-busting and lobbying efforts to stifle wages than the notorious Walmart. The last few years have seen a significant increase in protests by employees and their allies fed up with the company’s shady business practices. As average Americans lose their taste for the retail giant, divestment on a larger scale is sure to follow. Just ask the City Council of Portland, Oregon.
Portland recently became the first U.S. city to commit itself to a complete divestment from the company. Citing concerns that Walmart is “not a socially responsible company,” City Commissioner Steve Novick first proposed phasing out the city’s $36 million in investments in Walmart holdings. Already Portland has backed out to the tune of $9 million, and officials are committed to completely ending investment in the company by 2016 as individual holdings expire. What’s more, Novick’s initiative makes sure that the “City of Roses” is prohibited from buying new Walmart bonds down the line. A committee is being established to help Portland make socially-responsible investments instead.
Other American cities are certain to join Portland in abandoning their Walmart investments; by being the first to do so Portland officials have helped set a new and commendable standard. Walmart may blame poor profits on “bad weather” but in reality the protests, bad press and increasing divestment are having a real impact. Praise Portland’s commitment to, as Novick put it, “hold companies accountable and align our investment policies with our values.”
Dear Commissioner Novick,
I am inspired and encouraged by Portland’s recent pledge to cease investment in Walmart bonds–and I have no doubt that other cities will be, too. As you recently asserted, the company’s “controversial business and labor practices” make it a bad fit for your city’s portfolio. By shedding financial support for Walmart cities like yours can send a strong message that ethics do matter even when conducting business. To judge by the company’s failing profits, I would bet you aren’t alone in striving to live by this belief.
Thank you for initiating this bold move, and for urging your colleagues in City Hall to stand behind their expressed values. This promises to be a new, more socially responsible era for your city’s investments–and that is most definitely worthy of praise.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit:Wikimedia Commons