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State treasurer reverses decision on Walmart after company pledges action on child labor

Marques Thomas

Earlier this year New Mexico State Treasurer Laura Montoya put several large corporations on a caution list over concerns around child labor in their supply chains. But three months later, she reversed that decision for Walmart after meetings with the company.

On Monday she recommended removing Walmart from the state’s caution list and upgrading its status to “buy.” This comes after Montoya joined several other state treasurers earlier this year unpausing investments in Walmart, Amazon and PepsiCo following an investigation by the New York Timesalleging they used illegal labor in their supply chains.

Chavi Keeney Nana is the director of the Equitable Global Supply Chain Program at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which coordinates shareholder advocacy efforts and has had success securing workers’ rights. She called Montoya’s decision premature.

“I would want to know, before taking Walmart off a caution list, what evidence the state treasurer received to be confident that Walmart is actually improving on its record.”

Keeney Nana said investors are no longer willing to take companies at their word.

“We want to continue to have these discussions with companies. But we also need them to show us the material that backs up what they say.”

Montoya was unavailable for comment before this story aired.

In her letter to Walmart she says she made the decision based on meetings between her office and Walmart officials and the company’s stated commitment to ensure its suppliers comply with child labor laws.

She also noted Walmart’s pledge to take action against such suppliers.

Keeney Nana said the focus should be on the children.

“The main priority for us is that children are working at ages and under conditions where they are safe, and that their primary primary goal and job is that they're in school,” she said.

Support for this coverage comes from the Thornburg Foundation and KUNM listeners. 

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s a former Local News Fund Fellow. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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