Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled a bill on Thursday calling for Walmart – which he dubbed the “poster child” for corporate greed – to raise employees’ wages, or face financial consequences, after a similar effort was successful against e-commerce giant Amazon.
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“[We’re seeing] large profitable corporations … pay their workers starvation wages, while at the same time providing CEOs with very, very high compensation packages,” Sanders said on a phone call with the media.
The bill, dubbed the “Stop Walmart Act,” would prevent large employers from buying back their own stock until they pay all employees at least $15 per hour, provide workers with at least seven days of paid sick leave and stop CEO compensation from rising above 150 times median worker pay, according to The Washington Post. Companies use stock repurchases to increase the value of shares on the market, which is good for investors, as the business invests in itself.
In tweets fired off on Wednesday, Sanders railed against the federal minimum wage – $7.25 per hour – and the Walton family, which owns Walmart.
During Thursday’s press conference with the media, Sanders slammed a member of the Walton family for having an antique car collection worth $226 million – including 12 Ferraris, six Porsches, two Maseratis and a 1963 Corvette.
A spokesperson for Walmart said the company has increased its starting wages by more than 50 percent over the last three years and currently provide average hourly total compensation in excess of $17.50 per hour.
"We’ve also added new benefits like paid time off, advanced job training, paid family leave and college for $1 a day. In addition, our associates continue to earn quarterly cash bonuses – more than $625 million last year alone," a Walmart spokesperson said.
Walmart employs more than 2.2 million people across the world, including 1.5 million in the United States, according to its website.
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., is a co-sponsor on the bill.
Sanders employed a similar tactic against Amazon in September – introducing the Stop BEZOS Act, which would have imposed a 100 percent tax on large employers equal to the amount that their workers receive in public assistance benefits. In response, the e-commerce giant raised its minimum wage.
Khanna and Sanders praised Amazon and Disney for increasing wages to $15 per hour.
“I am confident that Walmart will eventually do the right thing, like Amazon has, like Disney has, and move to $15,” Khanna said.
The Stop BEZOS Act, while directly targeting Amazon, was also aimed at the country’s largest retailers, including Walmart.