Senator Bernie Sanders will be a surprise guest at Walmart’s annual company meeting on June 5, held at the company’s corporate offices in Bentonville, Ark. He will be there to present a new shareholders’ proposal that will allow for the retailer’s hourly employees to have a spot on the company’s board of directors. That board is currently made up of highly paid executives like Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International Group, and Stephen J. Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald’s Corporation.
The presidential candidate from Vermont has long used his platform to call on giant retailers like Walmart and Amazon to provide better working conditions. “These workers need and deserve a seat at the table,” Sanders 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.”
The proposal was filed by Cat Davis, a Walmart employee who also acts as the leader of United for Respect, a workers’ rights organization. If shareholders approve Sanders’ proposal, it would mean that Walmart will have to take into account all of its U.S. hourly employees when deciding on candidates for the board.
A Walmart rep provided the following statement to FN. “The company will respond to specific shareholder proposals once they are formally presented at our June 5 shareholders meeting. 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. 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.”
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