“I worked at Walmart for years and never once was I disciplined until I started speaking out for a better living. While Walmart is breaking the law, Marissa Mayer is not fulfilling her role as an independent Director. She refused to meet us in her office for the last two years. It’s now an emergency.” — Barbara Collins, a former Walmart Associate who was fired on June 29, 2013 for calling on Walmart to stop retaliating against workers who speak out for improved working conditions.
Background on Marissa Mayer and Walmart
On April 16, 2012, Walmart announced that Marissa Mayer would join the company’s board. At the time of her appointment to the Walmart Board, Mayer was a Vice President at Google. However, two months later, she was named CEO of Yahoo.
Immediately after her appointment to the Walmart Board, OUR Walmart members and allies attempted to schedule a meeting with her to share their concerns.
Walmart workers and supporters have made a dozen separate attempts to reach her, including in late June when fired OUR Walmart members and supporters went to Yahoo Headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA to speak with Ms. Mayer. Police arrested members of the delegation after Ms. Mayer refused to meet with them to hear their concerns.
The next day, three OUR Walmart members addressed the Yahoo shareholder meeting, asking why Mayer has remained silent in the face of this illegal activity by Walmart.
History of outreach by Walmart associates and allies to Walmart Director Marissa Mayer
April 16, 2012 – Walmart announces that Marissa Mayer will join the company’s board.
April 23, 2012 – OUR Walmart members and supporters visit the Google campus to attempt to speak with Ms. Mayer and deliver a letter to her requesting an opportunity to express their concerns.
April 26, 2012 – OUR Walmart members and supporters again visit the Google campus to attempt to speak with Ms. Mayer and request a meeting.
May 23, 2012 – OUR Walmart members and allies deliver a cake to Ms. Mayer after she speaks at a Wired Business Conference in New York City. They personally hand her the cake and a Google+ hangout invitation. They follow-up with additional requests via Facebook and Twitter.
May 25, 2012 – OUR Walmart members visit the Google campus with flowers to congratulate Ms. Mayer on formally joining the Walmart Board and to extend another invite to “hang out”.
May 30, 2012 – OUR Walmart members visit the Google campus and widely distribute a follow-up invitation.
June 29, 2012 – OUR Walmart writes to Ms. Mayer, reiterating the request for a meeting and reporting on fallout from the Mexico scandal at the annual shareholder meeting. The letter specifically cites problems of illegal retaliation by the company against Walmart Associates.
August 17, 2012 – Community leaders write to Ms. Mayer to request that he meet with OURWalmart Associates. Signers include: Terry O’Neill (President of the National Organization for Women), Sarita Gupta (Executive Director, Jobs With Justice), Bill Fletcher, Jr. (Chair, National Retail Justice Alliance), and Dan Schlademan (Director, Making Change at Walmart Campaign). Among other issues, the letter asked Ms. Mayer to help stop illegal retaliation by Walmart against members of OUR Walmart.
November 11, 2012 – OUR Walmart sends a letter to Ms. Mayer urging her to take leadership and help Walmart change course.
March 20, 2013 – Walmart Associate Barbara Collins writes an op-ed for the Women’s Media Center calling on Ms. Mayer to be a leader and help change Walmart for the better.
May 16, 2013 – OUR Walmart members deliver letter inviting Ms. Mayer to a Working Women Lean In Circle. The letter cites illegal threats and retaliation by Walmart against Associates who speak out.
May 29, 2013 – Walmart Associates and their supporters attempt to deliver the May 16th letter mentioned above to Ms. Mayer’s penthouse atop the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown San Francisco.
June 24, 2013 – Walmart Associates (including some who had just been illegally fired by Walmart) and their supporters travel to Yahoo headquarters to attempt to speak with Ms. Mayer. Ms. Mayer refuses to meet with them and police later arrest them.
June 25, 2013 – Three members of OUR Walmart attend the Yahoo annual shareholders meeting and publicly ask Ms. Mayer to play a leadership role in helping to end Walmart’s illegal retaliation against Walmart employees who choose to speak out. Nicholas Carlson of Business Insider writes: “It’s times like these when you have to wonder if the distraction of being on Wal-Mart’s board is worth it for Mayer and Yahoo.”
July 15, 2013 – At Yahoo offices in ten cities nationwide, Walmart workers and community supporters gather to publicly call on Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to end her silence as Walmart faces criticism over its widespread violations of labor law.
July 18, 2013 – Marissa Mayer refuses to speak with Walmart associates who show up outside her Palo Alto home as guests arrive to attend a $2,400 a head fundraiser for the Yahoo political action committee (Y!PAC).
September 5, 2013 – Illegally fired Walmart workers and supporters protest at the San Francisco Four Seasons, where Marissa Mayer owns a $5 million penthouse apartment. A group of workers protest at the entrance to the hotel and are arrested.
On November 18, 2013, the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel announces that it will prosecute Walmart for illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers (see here).
November 19, 2013. A group of Walmart workers and supporters disrupt Marissa Mayer’s “fireside chat” with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff at Dreamforce13. When Benioff seems puzzled by the chanting, Mayer explains what is happening by simply stating, “I’m on the Board of Walmart.” Mayer indicates she will not discuss the matter further. One of the protestors, illegally fired Walmart worker Dominic Ware, later said, “We’re fighting for better lives for our families while Marissa Mayer laughs it off and goes home to her 4 Seasons Penthouse. It’s time for her to speak out for change at Walmart.”
March 17, 2014 – OUR Walmart members and their supporters distribute leaflets outside the advertising industry conference, Transformation 2014 in Los Angeles. The leaflets call on Ms. Mayer to end her silence and voice support for workers who have been illegally terminated for speaking out at Walmart.”