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 mboyle20@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Crayton Harrison at tharrison5@bloomberg.net, Jonathan Roeder, Lisa Wolfson

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

COMMENTS

More Related News

New poll shows Biden with big lead over Trump
New poll shows Biden with big lead over Trump

A nationwide Fox News poll released Sunday shows President Donald Trump trailing former vice president Joe Biden and no fewer than four other Democratic contenders as early campaigning for the 2020 election begins to gain steam. A separate survey of key battleground states, by CBS, shows Democrats strongly favor Biden as the candidate most likely to beat Trump in next year's elections. While the latest polling news proved heartening to Democrats, the Trump re-election campaign reportedly has cut ties to three of its own pollsters after some of their results -- showing Trump trailing far behind Biden in key states -- leaked.

Trump Faces Many
Trump Faces Many 'Uncomfortable' Voters in 2020: NBC-WSJ Poll

A flurry of opinion polls on Sunday also showed that a majority of voters think the Trump administration has gone too far on its immigration enforcement efforts, and that economic optimism has slipped from the high levels seen shortly before Trump's inauguration in 2017. In an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, some 52% reported being very uncomfortable about Trump and an additional 10% had some reservations. The negative response about Trump was up 3 percentage points from a poll conducted in late April and early May.

New poll shows Trump trailing Biden and four other Democrats
New poll shows Trump trailing Biden and four other Democrats

A nationwide Fox News poll released Sunday shows President Donald Trump trailing former vice president Joe Biden and no fewer than four other Democratic contenders as early campaigning for the 2020 election begins to gain steam. A separate survey of battleground states, by CBS, shows Democrats strongly favor Biden as the candidate most likely to beat Trump in next year's elections. The Fox poll showed Biden leading Trump by 49 percent to 39 percent among all registered voters nationwide, while Senator Bernie Sanders held nearly the same advantage over the president, at 49 percent to 40 percent.

Biden, Sanders to face off as 1st Democratic debate line-up set
Biden, Sanders to face off as 1st Democratic debate line-up set

The Democratic Party on Friday announced its line-ups for the debut debate of the 2020 presidential cycle -- a crowded, two-night affair that will see frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders square off in a highly anticipated match-up. Twenty Democrats will take the stage in prime time on June 26 and 27 in Miami -- in two groups of 10 -- as they battle to become the nominee who will challenge President Donald Trump for the White House next year. Former US vice president Biden, the unequivocal frontrunner, and liberal senator Sanders, who is polling in second, will be among 10 candidates sharing the stage on the second night.

Democratic contenders Biden, Sanders to face off in Miami debates
Democratic contenders Biden, Sanders to face off in Miami debates
  • US
  • 2019-06-14 17:43:42Z

U.S. Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden will appear on the same stage with Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and six other rivals during the second of two nights of candidate debates scheduled for later this month in Miami. The first debate on June 26 will include candidates Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke among the 10 participants, NBC announced on Friday.

Leave a Comment

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

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Economy

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.