Bernie Sanders urges Walmart to boost 'starvation wages'


By Nandita Bose

ROGERS, Ark. (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Wednesday told Walmart Inc shareholders and top executives that the world's largest retailer should boost the "starvation"-level wages it pays its workers and stop fuelling income inequality.

"Despite the incredible wealth of Walmart's owners" the company pays "starvation wages," Sanders said at Walmart's shareholder meeting.

He presented a shareholder proposal asking the company to give hourly employees a seat on its board and raise base wages to $15 an hour.

Walmart's "wages are so low, many of these employees are forced to rely on government programs like food stamps, Medicaid and public housing in order to survive," Sanders said.

"The American people are so tired of subsidizing the greed of some of the largest corporations in the United States," he added.

Sanders' remarks at the meeting drew attention to his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and the drive for higher hourly U.S. wages, one of his signature issues.

The proposal, filed by Walmart worker Carolyn Davis, was buried at the end of the annual proxy filing. It did not pass since a majority of shares are owned by the family of the founder, the late Sam Walton, and the retailer had asked shareholders to vote against it.

Sanders also complained that "Walmart's CEO is making a thousand times more than the average Walmart employee."

Walmart's CEO received a $23.6 million pay package last year. The ratio compared with that of the median employee was 1,076 to 1.

With his frequent attacks on Walmart, and other major employers, Sanders has been trying to distinguish himself from former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination, who also is making a pitch to working-class Americans.

His presence on Wednesday could give Sanders a boost when the two dozen Democratic contenders begin to compete for endorsements from the nation's biggest labour unions.

Protesters gathered outside the meeting, many from the labour group "United for Respect" which has pushed for a worker presence on Walmart's board. They held signs supporting the Sanders 2020 Presidential campaign and calling for a $15 per hour U.S. minimum wage.

Walmart has raised its minimum wage twice since 2016 to $11 an hour, still lower than the $15 an hour that rival Inc pays employees. Retailers Target Corp and Costco Wholesale Corp also pay higher rates than Walmart.

Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said Walmart has raised wages in the United States by 50 percent in the past four years and continues to increase wages on a market-by-market basis to hire and retain talent. He also urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour.

"We are not perfect, but together we are learning, we are listening and changing," he said.

Walmart has said it pays an average of $17.50 an hour to its hourly employees, including benefits.

Walmart, which employs nearly 1.5 million Americans and is the largest U.S. private-sector employer, drew sharp criticism from labour groups and unions when it changed the format of its annual meeting last year, splitting it into two separate events.

The business meeting at which Sanders spoke is now held a few days before the big shareholder event, which draws thousands of employees. This year and the year before, the company rushed through shareholder proposals at the business meeting, which had a fraction of the attendees, in less than 30 minutes.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Rogers, Arkansas; editing by David Gregorio, Lisa Shumaker and Bill Berkrot)


More Related News

India rejects Walmart-owned Flipkart's proposed foray into food retail business
India rejects Walmart-owned Flipkart's proposed foray into food retail business

The Indian government has rejected Flipkart's proposal to enter the food retail business in a setback for Walmart, which owns majority of the Indian e-commerce firm and which recently counted its business in Asia's third-largest economy as one of the worst impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), a wing of the nation's Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told Flipkart, which competes with Amazon India, that its proposed plan to enter the food retail business violates regulatory guidelines. Flipkart's proposed food retail business, called Flipkart FarmerMart, cannot be structured on a 100% foreign direct investment,...

Retailers already hit by coronavirus board up as U.S. protests rage
Retailers already hit by coronavirus board up as U.S. protests rage

Target Corp and Walmart said on Sunday they shuttered stores across the United States as retailers already reeling from closures because of the coronavirus pandemic shut outlets amid protests that included looting in many U.S. cities. Protests turned violent in places including New York and Chicago following the death in Minneapolis of a black man, George Floyd, seen on video gasping for breath as a white police officer knelt on his neck. In Los Angeles, protests led to the looting of the Alexander McQueen clothing store on Rodeo Drive, and a Gucci store on the vaunted strip was marked with the graffiti slogan: "Eat the rich," according to local media reports.

A year later, motive of Virginia mass shooting still unclear
A year later, motive of Virginia mass shooting still unclear
  • World
  • 2020-05-30 11:53:17Z

The rampage at a Virginia Beach city government building was the latest in a string of high-profile mass shootings nationwide, between the high school killings in Parkland, Florida, and the Walmart massacre in El Paso, Texas. As the tragedy nears its one-year anniversary Sunday, some victims' family members feel it has effectively been forgotten after the national spotlight moved on to other mass killings, and more recently has been all but eclipsed by the coronavirus pandemic. "We were a flash in the pan," said Jason Nixon, whose wife, Kate, was among those killed.

Minnesota Riots Hurt Klobuchar
Minnesota Riots Hurt Klobuchar's VP Nomination Prospects, According to Biden Ally

The ongoing riots in Minnesota hurt Senator Amy Klobuchar's prospects for Democratic nomination as vice president, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) said on Friday.Klobuchar declined to bring charges against multiple Minneapolis police officers involved in shootings over the course of her seven-year tenure as attorney for Hennepin County. Minneapolis has seen four days of riots after resident George Floyd, an African-American man, died following his arrest at the hands of white officers."We are all victims sometimes of timing….This is very tough timing for Amy Klobuchar, who I respect so much," Clyburn told reporters. When asked directly if Klobuchar's chances at the...

How to Screw Up a Vice-Presidential Pick
How to Screw Up a Vice-Presidential Pick

Joe Biden's choice for vice president is arguably the biggest decision of his campaign-and it could go very, very wrong. And no one knows more about failed veep picks than Steve Schmidt and Philippe Reines, who worked on the McCain/Palin and Clinton/Kaine campaigns.In Episode 12 of The New Abnormal, The Daily Beast's podcast for a world gone off the rails, Schmidt and Reines tell Molly Jong-Fast and Rick Wilson about what went south with Hillary Clinton's VP approach, and how Biden can avoid the same fate."It's not a matter of who you want to go to the movies with. It's a matter of being able to do it on day one," says Reines. "In a perfect world, he would pick Bernie Sanders," he adds....

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Internet