PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Small business and union supporters cheered Portland Commissioner Steve Novick’s plan to eventually stop the city from investing in Walmart.
Portland leaders said they are pulling back investments in the retail giant because it’s not a socially responsible company.
Portland currently has about $36 million of taxpayer money invested in Walmart bonds, according to city leaders, making it one of the top ten individual companies the city invests in to make money.
Now, those bonds are coming due and Novick said the city is not going to reinvest in the company because of its controversial business and labor practices. Novick said he does not believe this move sends the wrong message to Walmart, which is spending money in Portland to build new stores.
“It says to Walmart we would like you to change your practices and provide better jobs,” said Novick.
Novick said until now, no one has taken a close look at the social practices of companies the city invest in because those investments have been about the bottom line – making money.
But how does the city decide who to invest with, and why focus on Walmart when oil companies and other controversial businesses, including Coca Cola, are on the city’s investment list?
“Well, what we told our committee is that we’d like a mechanism to sort of take a look at all this criteria and tell us about companies that are so egregious in several of them that it’s worth putting them on the do not buy list,” said Novick.
On the other hand, some Walmart shopper and workers said they think it is wrong to single out a business that provides jobs and pays taxes.
Walmart spokesperson Delia Garcia provided the following statement in regards to Novick’s plan:
“It’s not our place to comment on whether someone decides to invest in the company. That’s an individual decision. We are proud of our mission to help people save money so that they can live better and are investing in communities across Oregon and the nation through new jobs, economic opportunities for our associates and support for local charities.”
Garcia also added that Walmart is currently hiring for 600 positions at future stores in the Portland metro area and that the company is recognized as a leader in sustainability.
Other companies that the city may avoid investing in won’t be determined for another several months, city leaders said.