Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has called on Walmart in the past to raise employees’ wages, will attend the retail giant’s annual shareholders meeting to argue that employees deserve a seat on the board.
Sanders will attend the meeting in Bentonville, Ark., on June 5, as first reported by The Washington Post, and introduce a proposal that would allow hourly employees who work at the company a seat on the board.
"In this country we must address the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality where the very rich get richer while 40% earn less than $15 an hour. It is time for Walmart to pay all of its workers a living wage, give them a seat at the table, stop blocking them from joining a union and allow part-time employees to work full-time jobs," Sanders said in a statement ahead of the meeting.
Cat Davis, an employee of Walmart and leader of United for Respect, a worker’s right organization, told The Washington Post she invited Sanders to speak at the meeting because the senator has been an advocate for worker’s rights.
“We really want Walmart to think about us — the lowly associates who, behind the scenes, are the ones bringing in the money,” Davis said. She filed a shareholder proposal which, if passed, would force Walmart to consider hourly employees when it comes to “nominating candidates for its board,” The Washington Post reported.
Walmart told Fox News in a statement, “The company will respond to specific shareholder proposals once they are formally presented at our June 5 shareholders meeting. Since the beginning, a cornerstone of Walmart’s culture has been engaging frontline associates in the management of the company, and we’re proud of the fact that 75% of our U.S. management associates began their career as frontline hourly associates. 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 — as well as our widely recognized leadership on environmental sustainability.”
In November, Sanders unveiled a bill, called the “Stop Walmart Act” which called on the retailer to raise employees’ wages to at least $15 an hour and provide workers with sick leave or face financial consequences. A number of other 2020 presidential hopefuls, including Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have supported the idea to raise the federal minimum wage to $15.
Fox Business’ Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.