Walmart to Skip VIP Treatment for Bernie Sanders at Shareholder Meeting


(Bloomberg) -- Bernie Sanders plans to crash Walmart Inc.'s annual shareholder meeting next month, but he won't get the VIP treatment that the retailer usually extends to famous guests.

Sanders, a longtime critic of labor practices at the nation's biggest private employer, will introduce a shareholder proposal at the June 5 meeting in Rogers, Arkansas, a spokeswoman for his campaign said. The proposal, which has no chance of passing, calls for Walmart to give its hourly workers a board seat.

Sanders also introduced a bill last year to improve pay and sick leave at Walmart and other large companies. He will speak as a proxy for Cat Davis, the Walmart employee who filed the latest action, according to United for Respect, a workers' rights organization. The Vermont senator, who is originally from Brooklyn, may have little more than the proverbial New York minute to speak on workers' behalf, however. Last year Walmart rushed through all shareholder proposals in less than half an hour.

'Constructive Opportunity'

It's not yet clear whether Sanders will meet with Walmart's directors or executives at the event.

"If Senator Sanders attends, we hope he will approach his visit not as a campaign stop, but as a constructive opportunity to learn about the many ways we're working to provide increased economic opportunity, mobility and benefits to our associates," company spokesman Randy Hargrove said in an emailed statement.

The proposal that Sanders will introduce is buried at the end of Walmart's annual proxy statement under "Other Matters." In the proxy, Walmart said that even if the plan is "properly presented," it will be voted down. Walmart has separated shareholder proposals and other formalities of its annual meeting in recent years, conducting them a few days before the big "Celebration Event" at the University of Arkansas's Bud Walton Arena that has featured performances from Katy Perry and Jamie Foxx.

Sanders has pointed to Walmart as an example of inequality in America -- comparing the vast wealth of the Walton family, which owns the majority of Walmart shares, to the low income of its employees, some of whom receive government benefits like food stamps and Medicaid. He regularly claims that the Walton family collectively has more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans.

'Sick and Tired'

"Walmart workers are sick and tired of being paid poverty wages, while the Walton family is worth over $170 billion," Sanders said in a Twitter posting on Tuesday. "I'm honored to have been invited by Walmart workers to demand they have a seat on the company's board."

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

Sanders last November introduced the Stop Walmart Act, a bill that would prevent large companies from buying back stock unless they pay all employees at least $15 an hour, and allow workers to earn as many as seven days of paid sick leave. Walmart has raised its starting minimum wage several times in recent years to the current $11, which is still below what rivals like Target Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp. pay.

Walmart has revamped its paid sick leave policy to include as much as 48 hours of paid time off, while expanding benefits for new parents. The company says these moves and others have lowered employee turnover by more than 10 percentage points in the U.S.

That's not enough for critics like Sanders. But the Democratic presidential candidate might not get much time on the soapbox.

(Updates with comment from Walmart employee in fourth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Laura Litvan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Boyle in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Crayton Harrison at, Jonathan Roeder, Lisa Wolfson

For more articles like this, please visit us at

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


More Related News

With victories in 7 states, Biden closes in on nomination
With victories in 7 states, Biden closes in on nomination
  • World
  • 2020-06-03 05:52:04Z

Joe Biden is on the cusp of formally securing the Democratic presidential nomination after winning hundreds more delegates in primary contests Tuesday that tested the nation's ability to run elections while balancing a pandemic and sweeping social unrest. Biden could lock down the nomination within the next week as West Virginia and Georgia hold primaries. On Tuesday, voters across America were forced to navigate curfews, health concerns and National Guard troops - waiting in line hours after polls closed in some cases - after election officials dramatically reduced the number of in-person voting sites to minimize the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

7 states, DC vote amid coronavirus pandemic, social unrest
7 states, DC vote amid coronavirus pandemic, social unrest
  • World
  • 2020-06-02 04:27:09Z

Voters are being asked to navigate curfews, health concerns and a sharp increase in mail balloting on Tuesday as elections take place from Maryland to Montana. Pennsylvania offers the day's biggest trove of delegates and represents a high-profile test case for Republicans and Democrats working to strengthen their operations in one of the most important general election battlegrounds. "We think we're prepared," Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills said.

High court declines to take up Sanders supporters
High court declines to take up Sanders supporters' lawsuit

The Supreme Court is declining to revive a lawsuit by supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders who sued the Democratic National Committee in 2016 over claims officials improperly tipped the scales for Hillary Clinton during the nominating process. The lawsuit was filed after leaked DNC emails suggested Democratic party officials had favored Clinton over the Vermont senator during the primaries. The emails were posted on the document disclosure website WikiLeaks.

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.

Leave a Comment

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

Cancel reply


Top News: Economy