Bernie Sanders is going to Bentonville. He will be a guest of the workers of Walmart at the annual shareholders meeting in Arkansas. During the meeting on June 5, hourly workers plan to introduce a proposal asking for a seat on the board.
Bernie never misses an opportunity to demonize a successful American business, so his acceptance of the invitation was never really in doubt. In this case, he’s prepared to support the workers’ demands of higher wages, paid sick leave, and a “more fair, inclusive and equitable corporate ecosystem that bridges differences.” Sanders’ invitation originated from Walmart employee Cat Davis, a certified pharmacy technician in New Bern, N.C. She’s impressed with his past work on behalf of the corporation’s workers.
In November, Sanders introduced the “Stop Walmart Act” which would hold hostage the ability of corporations to buy back their own stock “unless they pay all workers $15 an hour, offer seven days of paid sick leave and limit executive compensation to 150 times median employee pay.” Buying back stock increases share prices and stockholders’ profits. The title of Sanders’ bill is odd, though. “Stop Walmart” sounds as though he’d like to drive the corporation out of business, not increase worker wages. If that happened, the workers would be on the unemployment line, not benefitting from $15.00 an hour wages. Apparently, Sanders just enjoys sticking it to Walmart, an easy target as America’s largest retailer.
One of our members, Carolyn "Cat" Davis, has filed an unprecedented resolution proposing worker representation on Walmart's company board.
Never before has a worker-shareholder in the U.S. filed a proposal demanding worker representation on their company’s board. pic.twitter.com/vtOBNL0H0R
— United for Respect (@forrespect) May 21, 2019
“Crashing the Walmart annual meeting.” That should end well.
Last year, Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon made $23.6 million, 1076 times higher than the median salary of hourly workers. Their median salary is $22,000. Sanders told the Washington Post, “If hourly workers at Walmart were well represented on its board, I doubt you would see the CEO of Walmart making over a thousand times more than its average worker.” Well, I don’t know about that, Bernie. $23.6 million is more than most American workers can even daydream about making but it’s not Bezos money or Zuckerberg money.
Anyway, there isn’t much of a chance that the workers will get their demand for a member to sit on the board.
The measure, though, is not likely to pass. Walmart shareholders have voted down every employee proposal in company history, according to United for Respect. The Walton family owns about half of the company’s shares, meaning it has considerable control over votes.
A spokeswoman for Walmart said the company would not comment on Davis’s proposal until it was formally presented at the meeting.
Walmart released a statement and they hope Sanders isn’t just coming for a campaign stop. (Spoiler alert: He is.)
“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,” Walmart said in a statement.
There is no word yet if Bernie will actually meet with any Walmart executives or members of the board. It isn’t unusual, by the way, for a public figure to be invited to a Walmart shareholder meeting. In recent years, singer Justin Timberlake and comedian Jamie Foxx, for example, have attended.