- Sen. Bernie Sanders will attend Walmart’s shareholders meeting on June 5.
- He reportedly plans to boost a shareholder proposal to include hourly employees on the company’s board.
- A Walmart spokesperson told Business Insider that the company hopes Sanders will not approach the event as a “campaign stop.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of Walmart’s biggest critics, is crashing the retail giant’s annual shareholder meeting this year.
Sanders reportedly intends to advocate for a proposal that would admit a number of hourly store workers to Walmart’s board. The proposal – which hashes out a policy known as co-determination – was put forward by Walmart employee and labour rights activist Cat Davis. Co-determination is the norm in Germany, and at certain companies like Chrysler.
“These workers need and deserve a seat at the table,” Sanders told The Washington Post’s Abha Bhattarai.
Sanders’ office didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. And Walmart declined to comment about the specifics of Davis’ proposal.
“The company will respond to specific shareholder proposals once they are formally presented at our June 5 shareholders meeting,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider.
At the moment, Walmart’s board doesn’t feature any hourly workers. It’s stocked with high-power executives, including Walmart heir Rob Walton, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, the CEOs of McDonald’s and Nextdoor, and the former CEOs of PepsiCo, American Airlines, and KPMG International.
Walmart has asserted that it offers its employees plenty of room to grow and rise within the company.
“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,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider.
But a movement to include hourly workers on corporate boards has been increasingly talked about in the US. Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill that would “require corporations to answer to employees,” as she wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Her Accountable Capitalism Act called for 40% of any given corporate board’s makeup to consist of hourly workers.
Sanders himself has also been at the forefront of the debate, having established himself as one of Walmart’s loudest critics. He’s lobbed criticisms at Walmart for everything from the company’s leave policy to the Walton family’s immense fortune.
Back in November, he co-sponsored the Stop Walmart act with Rep. Ro Khanna of California. The legislation would force the retailer to raise its minimum hourly wage to $US15 or suffer the consequence of being banned from buying back stock.
By attending Walmart’s storied shareholders meeting, Sanders will be taking his criticisms to the next level, upbraiding the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer in its own backyard.
“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 recognised leadership on environmental sustainability,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement.
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