Bernie Sanders to demand Walmart ‘give hourly workers a seat on the board’

Mr Sanders is planning to push for an initiative that would give hourly Walmart workers a seat on the board of directors for the massive international company

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 21 May 2019 18:37
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Bernie Sanders is standing in as a special guest at this year’s Walmart annual shareholders meeting, where he is expected to introduce a shareholders’ proposal to give hourly workers a seat on the company’s board.

The Vermont senator is expected at that meeting in early June, when he will continue his advocacy for workers with the major retailer that has included frequent calls for Walmart to raise wages and to provide better working conditions.

“These workers need and deserve a seat at the table,” Mr Sanders told The Washington Post of the proposal he will introduce.

“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.”

The measure Mr Sanders is introducing would require the retailer to consider more than just the wealthy executives currently on the board when nominating new candidates to the board, with the 1.5 million hourly US employees having a say in the decisions at the top.

“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, which was filed by employee Cat Davis, says.

The senator’s plans come as he continues his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, and as he trails former vice president Joe Biden in recent polls.

Mr Sanders has sought to portray himself as a champion of working class people on the campaign trail, and is finding himself in competition with several other candidates for that mantle.

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That competition includes Mr Biden himself who, although he is the highest profile candidate and has attracted significant big money backers in major American industries, has leaned on his background as a boy from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to try to attract the very same voters that helped elect Donald Trump in 2016 over Hillary Clinton.

Mr Sanders has frequently introduced legislation aimed at improving working wages, including a bill in November titled “Stop Walmart Act” which would have prohibited companies from buying back their own stock, which drives up share prices and benefits shareholders older employees — unless those companies pay workers at least $15 an hour and provide other benefits.

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