Walmart workers seeking a seat on the company's board invited Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longtime advocate for higher wages and better labor conditions, to present their shareholder proposal at the retail giant's annual meeting next month.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Independent senator from Vermont and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate will attend Walmart's meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas on June 5 to advocate for the hourly workers behind the request. The proposal was filed by Cat Davis, a company employee and leader of labor rights group United for Respect.
BREAKING NEWS: We're crashing the Walmart annual meeting – and @BernieSanders will be joining us. We need deep structural changes to prioritize the needs of working people over returning profits to investors and enriching billionaires. https://t.co/NqZBZGcEwy
— United for Respect (@forrespect) May 21, 2019
"We really want Walmart to think about us—the lowly associates who, behind the scenes, are the ones bringing in the money," said Davis, who explained that she asked Sanders to present the proposal because of his history of backing workers' demands for higher wages and paid sick leave.
In November, Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced the Stop WALMART Act, which would ban major U.S. corporations from buying back their own stock if they don't pay workers $15 an hour plus benefits. They have not yet reintroduced the bill in the current session of Congress.
On Tuesday, the senator told Post that "workers are sick and tired of being paid poverty wages, while the Walton family is worth over $170 billion."
"These workers need and deserve a seat at the table," Sanders added. "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."
Per a Post review of company filings, Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon was paid $23.6 million in 2018, while the median salary for a company employee was about $22,000.
Walmart workers are sick and tired of being paid poverty wages, while the Walton family is worth over $170 billion. I’m honored to have been invited by Walmart workers to demand they have a seat on the company’s board. https://t.co/hIYWI3hSbw
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 21, 2019
Despite support from Sanders, the newspaper noted that the proposal put forth by workers likely won't 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 [the] proposal until it was formally presented at the meeting.
A Walmart spokesperson, in a statement, said that "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."