For the first time in history, a Presidential candidate appeared at a corporate annual meeting in support of a shareholder proposal.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders came face-to-face with Walmart’s corporate leadership during the retail giant’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday in Arkansas, where he introduced an employee proposal to put workers on the company’s board and asked for a raise to its minimum wage.Speaking as a proxy for a Walmart employee, Sanders offered the resolution — which would be defeated in an afternoon vote — from the floor of a small, carpeted ballroom with Rachel Brand, a top company executive and former Justice Department official, presiding onstage. After giving the formal pitch, Sanders delivered a more cutting message to Walmart officials.
“Despite the incredible wealth of its owner, Walmart pays many of its employees starvation wages, wages that are so low that many of these employees are forced to rely on government programs like food stamps, Medicaid and public housing in order to survive,” Sanders said. “Further, Walmart should give a voice to its workers by allowing them seats on the board of directors. The concerns of workers, not just stockholders should be a part of board decisions.”
By visiting Arkansas, Sanders was able to directly confront Walmart’s leadership and, through his aggressive use of social media, highlight his stand to Democrats angered by growing corporate profits at a time of increasing economic inequality. Sanders’ 2020 campaign has sought to remind voters of his long track record as an activist, dating to the Civil Rights Era. The candidate himself has spoken occasionally on the stump about his roots in the progressive movement and support for union workers on picket lines.