BAILEY T. STEEN | TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2018
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) are continuing their political campaign against greed of America™. Following their recent victory against Amazon, where a public pressure campaign forced the corporation to pay their workers the living wage of $15 per hour, the progressive lawmakers have introduced new legislation which will target similar corporate giants, namely Walmart, who have refused to raise their stagnant minimum wages despite record profits spanning over decades.
On Thursday, the lawmakers introduced The Stop Walmart Act, a new bill aimed to prevent large corporations from using federal and state tax breaks to purchase exploitative stock buybacks if their workers are still denied their basic labour rights such as $15 an hour and seven days of paid sick leave. The law would also tie the payments of the company’s top employees, from senior executives to the CEO, to be no more than 150 times the median pay of their lowest paid staffers.
“Last year Walmart made more than $13 billion in profits,” Sanders wrote in his proposal. “Unfortunately, instead of using its profits to raise their low wages, Walmart plans to buy back $20 billion of its own stock over a two-year period to enrich its executives and shareholders. The Walton family is Walmart’s largest shareholder, owning about 50 percent of its stock.”
“It is also the wealthiest family in the country with a reported net worth of around $180 billion,” the senator continued. “Since 1982, the wealth of the Walton family has increased about 10,000 percent. This one family owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. Meanwhile, 55 percent of Walmart’s associates are food insecure. If Walmart can afford $20 billion for stock buybacks to enrich the likes of the Waltons, it can afford to raise the pay of its workers to a living wage.”
“The American people understand that there is something totally absurd that you have large profitable corporations who make billions of dollars a year in profit who pay their workers starvations wages,” Sen. Sanders later said in a telephone interview with The Daily Beast, noting the average yearly income for Walmart workers is $19,177. “While at the same time providing their CEOs with very very high compensation packages. When we talk about corporate greed in this country, I think it’s fair to say that Walmart becomes the poster child.”
Walmart, which increased their lowest wage to at least $11 per hour earlier this year, issued a statement to CNN trying to explain their company offers both “competitive wages and benefits” if you’re a worker who can climb their corporate ladder. Their minimum, however, is still peanuts barely comperable to the average wages of other industrialised nations back in 2013.
This form of public and legislative shaming marks the populist method in which Sen. Sanders and his colleagues choose to represent worker’s rights. In September, these same lawmakers unveiled their Stop BEZOS Act, which would require large corporations with more than 500 employees, such as Amazon, to pay a new tax if their low-wage workers are still eligible to receive in benefits from the government’s social safety net programs, whether it’s Medicare, housing aid, food stamps, etc. The bill tied every dollar the worker receives in these benefits to a dollar Amazon would pay in taxes, meaning the average taxpayer isn’t expected to prop-up the failures of big business.
Within a month’s time, Amazon made their announcement to increase wages to Sander’s iconic call for $15 an hour, which went into effect on November 1. This decision, however, came with a slap across the face as these same workers were later denied bonuses and stock awards for hourly workers, which could have been worth more than the increase in wages over time. Sanders, while acknowledging their slight-of-hand trick, praised the company for coming to the decision after activist pressure. This was followed by calling out American Airlines, Disney, McDonalds and Walmart for exploiting America’s corporatist wild west that allow low wages to fester as the norm.
“Most Walmart retail workers are working for horrendously low wages with minimal benefits,” Sanders also told reporters. “The wealthiest family in America must pay its workers a living wage, and the Stop Walmart Act will do just that. Amazon did the right thing by raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Walmart can and must do the same.”
“While tens of thousands of Walmart workers are struggling to survive,” he continued, “Alice Walton had no problem amassing a private art collection worth half a billion dollars. Enough is enough. The time is long overdue for the Walton family to pay its workers a living wage. If large, profitable corporations like Amazon and Disney can pay all of their workers a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour, so can Walmart.”
Thanks for reading! This article was originally published for TrigTent.com, a bipartisan media platform for political and social commentary, truly diverse viewpoints and facts that don’t kowtow to political correctness. Bailey Steen is a journalist, graphic designer and film critic residing in the heart of Australia. You can also find his work right here on Medium and publications such as Janks Reviews. For updates, feel free to follow @atheist_cvnt on his various social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Gab. You can also contact through firstname.lastname@example.org for personal or business reasons. Stay honest and radical. Cheers, darlings. 💋