Sen. Bernie Sanders will come face-to-face with Walmart’s corporate leadership during the retail giant’s annual shareholders meeting in Arkansas on Wednesday, where he is slated to introduce an employee proposal to put workers on the company’s board.
Sanders was invited by Cat Davis, a Walmart employee for more than a decade, as her proxy to make the case for a plan that would put hourly associates on the corporate board, which currently includes high-ranking executives from places like McDonald’s, and raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The Walton family, which controls a little more than half of the company’s stock, is the wealthiest in the country. They have also become a frequent target of progressives, often led by Sanders, concerned by Walmart’s treatment of its workers. On Wednesday morning, Sanders will take his argument directly to the decision-makers — just a few minutes from company headquarters in Bentonville.
Putting workers on the Walmart board is “enormously important because at the end of the day, working people have got to have some control over how they spend at least eight hours a day,” Sanders told CNN in an interview. “They cannot simply be cogs in a machine. To be a human being means that you have some ability to control your life. And that includes your work life.”
By visiting Arkansas, Sanders is bringing his message directly to Walmart’s leadership and, through his aggressive use of social media, likely millions of more liberal Democratic primary voters hungry for more direct confrontation with corporate titans emboldened — and, in many cases, enriched — by the Trump era. Sanders’ 2020 campaign has sought to highlight his long track record as an activist, dating to the Civil Rights Era, and the candidate has, on occasion, spoken about his roots in progressive movement.
“Millions of people are struggling. And I come from that kind of a background,” Sanders said on Tuesday. “I come from a family that lived paycheck to paycheck and I identify with people who are struggling economically. And I think it’s absolutely imperative that we end this massive and grotesque level of income and wealth inequality.”
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