A decade ago, then-senator Obama used Walmart to paint an example of corporate greed. He said he would never shop there because of its decision to “go with low wages and diminished benefits,” according to Bloomberg.
But after Obama became president, the retailer came out in support of more than a dozen of his policy initiatives, including Obamacare and climate change. This support, plus the retailer’s effort to be more sustainable, has changed Obama’s opinion of the company.
“More and more companies like Walmart are realizing that wasting less energy isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for business,” Obama told a store crowd in Mountain View, Calif back in 2014. “If we do our part right now to rebuild an economy and transition into a clean energy future, we will create new jobs, we will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we will leave our children with a better america and a better future.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers union criticized Obama for this appearance, suggesting it was “a terrible message to workers across America,” according to the Huffington Post.
But last year, Walmart was one of 13 corporations to sign the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge, in which the companies pledged to invest in clean energy.
Today, Walmart’s stock is at a 52-week high, which is fueled in part by the relatively muted by the once deafening stance against the company.
“It only makes sense for the president to be willing to strike a partnership with the nation’s largest retailer,” Dwight Hill, a partner with retail consulting firm McMillan Doolittle, told Bloomberg. “And Walmart has made more strides of late to try to be more transparent about worker pay and benefits. They have certainly seen the light.”