Should retail boards include seats for store associates?
Bernie Sanders is not a fan of Walmart’s business practices when it comes to how the retailer compensates its hourly workers. Next month, the senator from Vermont and Democratic Party presidential hopeful plans to attend Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting in Arkansas where he will introduce a shareholder proposal requiring that hourly workers get a seat on the company’s board of directors.
“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,” Sen. Sanders told The Washington Post.
Walmart has said it will address shareholder proposals formally presented at the meeting on June 5. The retailer, CNBC reports, did issue a statement that urged the senator to “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.”
Sen. Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna of California introduced a bill last year that would force Walmart and other large companies to:
- Raise the hourly minimum wage to $15;
- Enable employees to earn up to seven days sick leave;
- Cap CEO compensation to not more than 150 times the median pay of all employees.
The senator has criticized Walmart for using share buybacks as a means to increase shareholder value while failing to pay its workers a living wage. He has asserted that more than half of Walmart’s hourly workers are food insecure while the Waltons, the founding family of the chain, own more than the bottom 40 percent of all Americans.
- Walmart workers invited a special guest to crash the company’s annual meeting: Bernie Sanders – The Washington Post
- Bernie Sanders will attend Walmart’s annual meeting to push for higher pay and other labor reforms – CNBC
- Sanders, Khanna Introduce The Stop Walmart Act to Put Workers Over Shareholders – Bernie Sanders
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think retailers would benefit from having store associates represented on company boards? How likely is it that Walmart’s shareholders will support such a proposal?