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  • Bernie Sanders criticized Walmart for not paying living wage to workers.

    Bernie Sanders criticized Walmart for not paying living wage to workers. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 June 2019

“This company, owned by the wealthiest family in America, can’t pay 15 bucks an hour,” Sanders said.

Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders Wednesday told Walmart Inc shareholders and top executives that the world's largest retailer should boost the "starvation"-level wages it pays its workers and stop fueling income inequality.

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Speaking at Walmart's shareholder meeting, the U.S. senator said "Despite the incredible wealth of Walmart's owners" the company pays "starvation wages."

He presented a shareholder proposal at the event asking the world's largest retailer to give hourly employees a seat on its board and pressed the company to raise base wages to US$15 an hour for its hourly workforce.

"The American [U.S.] people are so tired of subsidizing the greed of some of the largest corporations in the United States," he added.

Outside the meeting, he addressed a group of people and raised the same issue of not being paid a “living wage.”

“One might think a family worth of US$175 billion would be able to pay its employees a living wage. The Walmart pays US$11 an hour and people cannot make it on US$11 an hour. You can’t pay rent, you can’t get healthcare, you can’t feed your kids or put gas in the car on US$11 an hour,” Sanders said to a cheering crowd.  

“It is a little bit absurd that many many Walmart employees are forced to go on government programs like Medicaid food stamps or public housing subsidized by the taxpayers of this country...So all we are saying is pay your workers a living wage,” i.e. 15 dollars an hour said the Senator.

He also mentioned how paying a minimum living wage is not a “radical idea” and gave examples of Amazon and Disney employees who worked together to raise the minimum wage and how Target is moving in the same direction. “This company, owned by the wealthiest family in America [U.S.], can’t pay 15 bucks an hour,” Sanders said.

“Today we are here to fight for the dignity of Walmart employees to make sure that every employee at Walmart has at least a living wage...The country is so tired of this massive level of income and wealth inequality with people on top make billions and billions and working people struggle,” concluded Bernie after thanking the Walmart employees for fighting to raise their wages.

Sanders attended the shareholders meeting after the employees invited him to attend it and speak for them.

“We really want Walmart to think about us — the lowly associates who, behind the scenes, are the ones bringing in the money,” Walmart employee and leader for workers’ rights organization United for Respect, Cat Davis said in May.

The annual shareholder meeting of Walmart is a multi-day event where pep rally, pop concerts have become a norm. This time the workers also wanted someone to represent them, hence they invited Sanders who have been demanding US$15 an hour as wage, seven days of paid sick leave for the Walmart employees.

Sanders announced at the event that he will march with McDonald's workers in Cedar Rapids Sunday.

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