Bernie Sanders gears up to press Walmart on worker pay, representation
Sanders is expected to put forth a proposal to raise the company’s $11 minimum wage. He is also expected to propose allowing hourly workers to have representation on the company’s board of directors.
“If Costco, Amazon, Disney and other major corporations can pay their workers a minimum wage of $15 an hour there is no reason why Walmart, the largest employer in the country, cannot do the same,” Sanders’ campaign said in a statement on Tuesday.
Other items that shareholders are expected to vote on include sexual harassment policies and executive pay. Sanders has often criticized leaders of the largest retail corporations for earning millions, while their workers make less than what he considers a “living wage.”
In fact, in a tweet fired off about the Walmart meeting on Tuesday, the 2020 presidential candidate directly referred to the Walton family’s “greed” as he promoted higher wages. He previously listed out the family’s expensive purchases – including an antique car collection worth $226 million – while alleging some of Walmart’s workers are on public assistance programs.
The meeting will be held at the retail giant’s Arkansas headquarters.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo during an interview on Tuesday that the “underlying premise” of Sanders’ push to have hourly workers represented on the board – that workers should be heard – is one that the company supports.
“We’re working on the whole system, not just one of the variables,” McMillon said.
McMillon also said the company moved its starting wage rate up 50 percent in four years.
In a statement to FOX Business after Sanders’ expected attendance was announced, Walmart said it would respond to shareholder proposals once they are formally presented.
Sanders has targeted a number of the country’s largest corporations – including e-commerce giant Amazon and Delta Airlines – over employee pay. While his pressure on Amazon caused the company to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour, Walmart pushed back on Sanders’ “Stop Walmart Act,” which was unveiled late last year. The bill would prevent large employers from buying back their own stock until they pay all employees at least $15 per hour, provide workers with at least seven days of paid sick leave and stop CEO compensation from rising above 150 times median worker pay.
At the time Walmart said it provides “average hourly total compensation in excess of $17.50 per hour,” while it has added benefits like paid time off and education opportunities. Employees also have the opportunity to earn quarterly cash bonuses. Democrats introduced the Raise the Wage Act in January, which would increase the federal minimum pay rate to $15 by 2024 – through scheduled annual increases.