It’s disturbing, but not surprising. Walmart Board member Aida Alvarez is nothing if not consistent. For eight years, Alvarez has served on the Board of Walmart. For more than two years, Walmart workers who are members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart have been asking to meet with Ms. Alvarez. She has refused or ignored more than a dozen requests from Walmart workers and their allies to meet. That’s consistency.
We are right now in the midst of the latest, and almost comical, effort by Ms. Alvarez to avoid Walmart workers. In addition to being a Walmart director, Alvarez is also the chair of the Latino Community Foundation. Knowing that she would be at tonight’s Annual LCF Gala – and because (and this is important) they support the work of the LCF – Walmart workers purchased tickets for tonight’s event, requested time off work, rented a car, reserved hotel rooms and traveled from around California to attend the event. It is worth noting that Walmart is a major sponsor of the event.
To the surprise of no one, but the disappointment of many, at the last minute, the Walmart workers’ tickets were mysteriously canceled. Unfortunately, Ms. Alvarez was apparently so afraid of even being in the same room with Walmart workers like Venanzi Luna and Evelin Cruz, that the Latino Community Foundation cancelled their tickets and, in doing so, returned a significant donation to the LCF.
Now Walmart workers are calling on Ms. Alvarez to end her 8-year silence and begin to create a sense of urgency at Walmart again – urgency for justice for Walmart workers, many of whom face poverty-level wages and illegal retaliation, including possible termination, if they speak out about their workplace concerns.
Alvarez recently told The San Francisco Business Journal that the Walmart Board was instrumental in pushing Walmart’s management to be more aggressive about investing in e-commerce: “The Board was very important in creating a sense of urgency,” she said. “This was not something that was part of a 10-year plan, this needed to be done now.”
As chair of the LCF, Alvarez has talked a lot about the need to invest in the Latino community. But there’s a gaint disconnect here because Walmart is the nation’s largest employer of Latino workers, so if Ms. Alvarez is really interested in investing in the Latino community she could certainly make a big impact by challenging the way that Walmart’s treats its own workers. At the very least, she might at least take some time to actually hear from some of those workers. And she could certainly decide not to ban them from the LCF gala tonight.
Meeting with Walmart workers would be a great opportunity to hear directly from Associates about their experience on the job, the challenges they face and their ideas about how to make Walmart a stronger company.
So why is Alvarez so determined to avoid Walmart workers?
Sign the petition – which now has more than 54,000 signatures – and ask Alvarez to be a leader for change at Walmart.