Portland Divests Funds From Wal-Mart

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An outdoors sign for Walmart is seen in Duarte, Calif. Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

An outdoors sign for Wal-Mart. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

This post first appeared in YES! Magazine.

Last Thursday, the city of Portland, Oregon, unloaded $9 million, or 25 percent, of its investments in Wal-Mart, the first city to do so. This marks the beginning of a divestment program that will purge Portland’s investment portfolio of $36 million in Wal-Mart bonds by 2016, according to a press release.

The divestment plan is part of the city’s responsible investment initiative, introduced by City Commissioner Steve Novick, and adopted in October 2013. The initiative also prohibits the city from purchasing Wal-Mart bonds in the future.

Portland is not only discontinuing its investments in Wal-Mart, but has set up a committee to advise it on making socially responsible investments in the future. The committee will address issues like abusive labor practices, corruption and health concerns, among other things.

During a press conference last Thursday, Commissioner Novick encouraged other cities to adopt similar initiatives.

“From what I can tell, no other US city has looked at socially responsible investing in quite the same way as Portland. I’m hopeful other cities and states take note and adopt similar investment principles to hold companies accountable and align our investment policies with our values.”

Meanwhile, the company’s net income fell five percent, and shares fell two percent, in the first quarter of 2014, failing to meet Wall Street’s expectations for the third time in five quarters.

Wal-Mart blamed its poor performance on bad weather.

Laura Garcia is an Education Outreach Intern at YES! and a graduate of the program in political science and international relations at Saint Louis University.
Molly Rusk is an online reporting intern at YES! and a recent graduate of the program in Creative Writing at the University of Washington.
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