Walmart is the latest target of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders , who called on the nation’s largest employer to pay its 1.5 million workers more money.
“The wealth of the Walton family, the owners of Walmart, increased more than 9,000% since 1982” the self-identified Democratic socialist wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. “Walmart still doesn’t pay their workers a living wage. This is what a rigged economy is all about."
But in January, citing President Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (which notably slashed the corporate tax rate more than 10 percentage points), Walmart announced that it was raising its minimum wage to $11 per hour. The mandated federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, while Walmart's hourly wage is higher it does trail some other large conglomerates that pay $15 per hour.
In response, the retailer noted that it also upped its benefits. For instance, it expanded maternity and parental leave benefits, and will also provide a one-time cash bonus for eligible associates of up to $1,000, according to the January announcement. It also created an adoption benefit which covers $5,000 per child.
The sprawling retailer may be the latest to draw the ire of Sanders, but it's not the first: The former Democratic presidential candidate has previously lashed out at McDonald’s and Amazon regarding their treatment of employees.
And during the 2016 presidential election, Sanders repeatedly attacked big businesses for avoiding taxes to maximize earnings, while simultaneously failing to pay a living wage to its employees. He is continuing his crusade right into the midterm elections next week.
Despite being a noted Amazon critic, he recently applauded the e-commerce giant for announcing that it would hike its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all of its U.S. employees.
“What [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be a shot heard around the world,” he wrote on Twitter in early October. “I urge corporate leaders around the country to follow Mr. Bezos' lead.”
Walmart’s founding family the Walton’s, are among the richest in America. Sam Walton founded the discount retailer in 1962, and today, his descendants have a combined net worth of $175.99 billion -- more than Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, according to Bloomberg.