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Bernie Sanders will attend Walmart's annual meeting to push for higher pay and other labor reforms

Bernie Sanders will attend Walmart's annual meeting to push for higher pay and other labor reforms

Postby smix » Tue May 21, 2019 5:27 pm

Bernie Sanders will attend Walmart's annual meeting to push for higher pay and other labor reforms
CNBC

URL: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/21/2020-el ... eting.html
Category: Politics
Published: May 21, 2019

Description: Sen. Bernie Sanders will take his fight against Walmart closer to home. The Vermont independent and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate will attend the retailer's annual shareholders meeting in Arkansas next month, a campaign spokeswoman said Tuesday. He will push to boost pay and benefits for workers and introduce a measure to give hourly employees a spot on Walmart's board. "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," Sanders told The Washington Post, which first reported the news. In a statement, Walmart said it will "respond to specific shareholder proposals once they are formally presented" at the June 5 meeting. "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," the company said. Sanders has long pushed Walmart, the largest U.S. retailer by sales, to hike its minimum wage to $15 per hour. He introduced a bill last year aiming to push the company to raise workers' pay. The senator has cited the Walton family — relatives of Walmart founder Sam Walton who own about half of the company's shares — as evidence for a "rigged economy" and a need to raise taxes on the wealthy. Sanders' latest push to change Walmart's practices comes as the roughly two dozen candidates in the Democratic primary field jostle to win workers' support. In a party increasingly focused on populist economic ideas, the candidates vying to challenge President Donald Trump next year have tried to cast themselves as the best option to boost wages and benefits such as health care and parental leave for workers. Democratic presidential contenders, who broadly back a $15 per hour minimum wage, have put pressure on other major companies early in the campaign. Sanders, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee plan to join striking McDonald's workers during the burger chain's annual meeting Thursday, according to Fight for $15, which advocates for a higher pay floor. Several candidates, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, also supported workers on strike from grocer Stop & Shop earlier this year. Sanders will vie with Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, among others, for support from organized labor. Biden got a major union endorsement from the International Association of Fire Fighters shortly after he launched his campaign last month. Organized labor traditionally backs Democratic candidates. But Trump performed better with union members in 2016 than Republicans have in recent elections and hopes to keep that support in 2020. Last month, he argued union members "love Trump" even if what he called "Dues Crazy union leadership" does not. Walmart and McDonald's workers are not unionized, despite some efforts to organize. Walmart says it employs about 1.5 million hourly associates in the U.S.
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Walmart workers invited a special guest to crash the company’s annual meeting: Bernie Sanders

Postby smix » Tue May 21, 2019 5:38 pm

Walmart workers invited a special guest to crash the company’s annual meeting: Bernie Sanders
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business ... e-sanders/
Category: Politics
Published: May 21, 2019

Description: For years, Walmart workers have attended the company’s annual shareholders meeting to call for higher wages, better benefits and more predictable schedules. This year they’ll have someone new delivering the message on their behalf: Sen. Bernie Sanders. The presidential candidate, who has repeatedly called on Walmart to improve its working conditions, is heading to Bentonville, Ark., on June 5 to introduce a shareholders’ proposal that would give hourly Walmart workers a seat on the company’s board. “These workers need and deserve a seat at the table,” Sanders (I-Vt.) 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." If passed, the measure would require the retailer to consider its 1.5 million hourly U.S. employees when nominating candidates to its board, which is currently companies of a dozen wealthy executives from companies like McDonald’s and NBCUniversal. "At a time of deepening racial and economic divide and insecurity, hourly associates can guide a more fair, inclusive and equitable corporate ecosystem that bridges differences,” the proposal says. It was filed by Walmart employee Cat Davis, who is also a leader for workers’ rights organization United for Respect. “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 works as certified pharmacy technician in New Bern, N.C. Davis said she invited Sanders to speak at the shareholders meeting because he has supported workers in their fight for better pay and paid sick leave. In November, Sanders introduced legislation aimed at getting Walmart to offer better pay and benefits. The “Stop Walmart Act,” would prohibit corporations from buying back their own stock — which drives up share prices and ultimately benefits shareholders — 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. (Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon last year was paid $23.6 million, or 1,076 times the median Walmart worker’s salary of roughly $22,000, according to company filings.) “Walmart is not a poor company,” Sanders said. “Workers are sick and tired of being paid poverty wages, while the Walton family is worth over $170 billion.” 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. “We’re proud of the fact that 75 percent of our U.S. management associates began their career as frontline hourly associates,” the company said in a statement. “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.” Walmart’s board currently has nine men and three women, including Stephen J. Easterbrook, the chief executive of McDonald’s; Marissa Mayer, the former chief executive of Yahoo; and three members of the Walton family. At least two other shareholder proposals will also be up for a vote during the annual meeting: one that calls on Walmart to take additional measures to prevent workplace sexual harassment, and another that would change the way shareholders vote for board members. Walmart is advising shareholders to against both, according to the company’s proxy filing. Sanders will hardly be the only well-known personality at the company’s shareholder festivities, where surprise headliners like Katy Perry, Blake Shelton and Mariah Carey have become the norm. Thousands gather at the University of Arkansas’s Bud Walton Arena every year for the multiday event, which is part pep rally, part pop concert and includes shareholder votes on a range of matters. Amazon last year raised its starting hourly wage to $15 an hour after Sanders introduced a bill that called on the company to pay its workers a “living wage.” (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)



Sanders wants to penalize Walmart’s owners unless they pay their workers $15 an hour
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business ... s-an-hour/
Category: Politics
Published: November 14, 2018

Description: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will unveil legislation on Thursday to force Walmart to raise its workers’ wages to at least $15 an hour, the latest move in the senator’s campaign to target large U.S. corporations over low pay. Sanders’s “Stop Walmart Act” is designed to pressure the biggest employer in America to raise wages for nearly 1 million workers. The bill would bar big corporations from buying their own stock — a move that rewards shareholders — unless they pay all employees $15 an hour, provide them seven days of sick leave, and prevent CEO compensation from rising more than 150 times above median employee pay. The effort comes after Sanders spearheaded a campaign over low worker pay at Amazon.com, which culminated last month in the online retailer agreeing to pay all workers at least $15 an hour. Critics say Sanders’s bill would constrict the flow of capital by preventing firms from buying back shares from their investors — money those investors then plow back into to the broader economy. Supporters say the plan would benefit a huge number of underpaid workers as the company’s founders, the Walton family, have seen their wealth balloon dramatically amid a broader increase of wealth inequality in the United States. In a statement, Sanders pointed out that the Walton family is the richest in America, with an estimated net worth of about $180 billion. The Walton family owns about 50 percent of Walmart’s stock, according to the company, while the starting wage for a Walmart employee is $11 an hour — which translates into a little more than $19,000 a year, according to the Roosevelt Institute, a left-leaning think tank. “Most Walmart retail workers are working for horrendously low wages with minimal benefits. The wealthiest family in America must pay its workers a living wage, and the Stop Walmart Act will do just that,” said Sanders, who is introducing the bill along with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). “Amazon did the right thing by raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Walmart can and must do the same.” In a statement, a Walmart spokesman said the company has already raised starting wages by more than 50 percent in the last three years, while awarding $625 million in quarterly cash bonuses over the last year as well as bolstering paid family leave, paid time off and job-training opportunities. Looking at all compensation — including benefits, paid time off and its 401(k) match — the average hourly compensation for Walmart employees is more than $17.50 an hour, the company said. “Our big focus for our company is making it easy for people to get in the front door for a job and empowering them to grow as fast as their skill will take them,” said Kory Lundberg, the Walmart spokesman. “We have been very deliberate about our job offerings, and we will continue listening to our people and investing in the training, benefits and wages that they tell us are important.” Sanders’s legislation, though not likely to be signed into law, given Republican control of the White House and Senate, proposes fining big companies that buy back stock while failing to pay employees $15 an hour. Corporate executives that fail to follow the rule would also be barred from their jobs. (A big company is defined as one with more than 500 employees.) Raising Walmart’s wages to at least $15 an hour would cost the company $3.8 billion, said Ken Jacobs, chair of the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center. Walmart announced last year that it would authorize $20 billion in stock buybacks over a two-year period. “Overall, the cost to Walmart of doing this would be a tiny, tiny fraction of their revenues, while its impact on workers’ lives would be huge,” Jacobs said. Walmart workers say they are encouraged by Amazon’s recent decision to hike wages. Kristi Branstetter, 54, a Walmart employee for seven years in Kansas City, Mo., said she struggles to pay her rent, utility and grocery bills every month on $11 an hour of pay. She was with about two dozen other Walmart employees when she learned that Amazon had agreed to the $15 an hour minimum wage. “We said, ‘Hey, if Amazon can do it, Walmart can do it. Walmart, it’s your move. Now, it’s your turn,’” said Branstetter, who cleans and stocks shelves at the store. “That really encouraged us to fight harder.” Some critics called the legislation counterproductive. Samuel Hammond, director of poverty and welfare policy at the libertarian-leaning Niskanen Center, said stock buybacks help circulate capital to faster-growing firms. When companies repurchase stock from investors, those investors are free to put that cash into other businesses and companies. The Republican tax law passed last fall left companies flush with cash by lowering tax rates, which in turn set off a boom in stock buybacks. Liberals have pointed out that these stock buybacks primarily enrich wealthy shareholders, while investors have defended buybacks as a sign of a quickly growing economy. “Preventing investors from buying back shares would essentially trap capital within the very firms that don't need it, which will hurt wages and productivity in the long run,” Hammond said in an email. “This is the latest in the worrying trend of politicians threatening specific companies with ruinous regulations in order to win short term concessions.” But other experts disagreed. Lenore Palladino, a senior economist and policy counsel at the think tank the Roosevelt Institute, said there is no evidence buybacks generate a surge in private investment rather than simply enriching shareholders. Companies did not begin buying back their stock until regulatory changes under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, she noted. “Of course wealthy shareholders could reinvest in other firms, but the data shows that’s not what happens,” Palladino said. “Over the last 20 years, more money has been generally been flowing out to shareholders than has been invested back into public corporations.”
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Bernie Sanders to push for $15/hour minimum wage at Walmart shareholder meeting

Postby smix » Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:24 am

Bernie Sanders to push for $15/hour minimum wage at Walmart shareholder meeting
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-walm ... SKCN1T60D8
Category: Politics
Published: June 5, 2019

Description: ROGERS, Ark (Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will attend Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday to advocate for workers’ rights as the retailer battles mounting pressure to hike its minimum wage for hourly employees. The U.S. Senator from Vermont will present a shareholder proposal at the event asking the world’s largest retailer to give its hourly employees a seat on its board and will press the company to raise wages. The proposal, which is buried at the end of Walmart’s annual proxy filing, has little chance of passing as the founding family, owns a majority of shares. Walmart’s shareholder meeting begins at 10.30 a.m. EST (1430 GMT) on June. 5 in Rogers, Arkansas. Sen. Sanders’ presence has brought fresh attention to a meeting whose format was changed by Walmart last year to split it into two separate events, inviting sharp criticism from labor groups and unions. The retailer, which employs nearly 1.5 million Americans and is the largest private-sector employer in the country, now holds its business meeting, which Sen. Sanders’ will attend, a few days before its big shareholder event, which draws thousands of employees. Last year it rushed through shareholder proposals at the business meeting, which had a fraction of the attendees, in less than 30 minutes. On Tuesday, Sen. Sanders sent out multiple tweets about the meeting. One said: “I know people who are on government benefits because the pay at Walmart is that low.” “Americans should not be subsidizing the richest family in America and @Walmart workers should not be living in poverty. Walmart’s greed has got to end.” In another tweet, he said “The Waltons ... earn $25,000 a minute. The average Walmart employee makes $25,000 a year. My message to the Walton’s is simple: Pay your employees a living wage of $15 an hour!” This will not be the first time Sen. Sanders has pushed Walmart to raise wages. He has regularly pointed to the retailer as an example of economic inequality in the country because a sizeable portion of its workforce depends on government welfare and foodstamps. Last year, Sanders introduced the Stop Walmart Act, a bill that would prevent large companies from buying back stock unless they pay all employees at least $15 an hour. Walmart has raised its minimum wage twice since 2016 to $11 an hour. But it is still lower than the $15 an hour that rival Amazon.com Inc pays its employees. Others like Target Corp and Costco Wholesale Corp also pay higher rates than the brick-and-mortar retailer. Walmart has said it pays an average of $17.50 an hour to its hourly employees, including benefits. “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 has said previously.
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Walmart CEO Puts Ball in Bernie’s Court: Congress Should Raise Federal Minimum Wage

Postby smix » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:33 pm

Walmart CEO Puts Ball in Bernie’s Court: Congress Should Raise Federal Minimum Wage
Breiitbart News

URL: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019 ... imum-wage/
Category: Politics
Published: June 6, 2019

Description: Walmart CEO Doug McMillon pushed back on Wednesday against Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) comments at the corporation’s annual shareholders meeting. McMillon cited his start as an hourly associate, discussed “higher pay” for workers, and called on the federal government to increase its $7.25 minimum wage. The board did not approve the resolution that Sanders presented on behalf of a Walmart employee that seeks to give workers seats on the board, but McMillion defended the company’s treatment of staff and touted the good the company does from the larger community. McMillon, who now earns a $1.3 million salary and $24 million, including stock and other compensation, said he started at Walmart unloading trucks 28 years ago. McMillon said Walmart has raised starting wages in the U.S. by 50 percent in the past four years and “invested an incremental $4.5 billion in pay, beyond [its] traditional annual wage increases, for [its] U.S. store and club associates.” He also said Walmart employees earned $793 million in cash bonuses on top of hourly pay. McMillon took a swipe at Sanders by calling the federal minimum wage of $7.25 “too low,” and he said Congress should “put a thoughtful plan in place to increase the minimum wage.” At the shareholders meeting, Sanders labeled the Walton family the “richest family in America” and called on Walmart to increase its wage to $15 an hour. But according to the corporation’s inaugural Environmental, Social & Governance Report, the average wage for a full-time employee is $14.26 an hour. The Walmart CEO also touted other employee benefits, including 16-week, paid parental leave; a $5,000 per child adoption benefit; and higher education assistance. Furthermore, he said that 1.1 million Walmart workers have affordable health care through the corporation. McMillon said Walmart helps its customers and the larger community by funding the fight against drug addiction and hunger and even put fighting climate change on its list of accomplishments. “I was 16 when I came to my first Walmart shareholders meeting with my dad who had taken some of the money he earned as a dentist and bought Walmart stock,” McMillon said. “As I learned about Sam, his business philosophy, his family and the company, I was beyond impressed,” McMillon said. “That was more than 35 years ago, and I’ve never been prouder of this company and of our associates.” “We’re not perfect,” McMillon stated. “But, together, we’re listening, learning, and changing.” At the meeting, the rejection of Sanders’ proposed resolution was noted. “While we don’t support this particular proposal, the importance of listening to and investing in our associates was reflected in Doug’s remarks and you’ll hear more about it later in the meeting,” Rachel Brand, Walmart’s executive vice president of global governance, chief legal officer, and corporate secretary, said. A press release distributed about the meeting said that “shareholders approved the election of each of Walmart’s 12 director nominees.”
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