WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 – Following the success of their campaign to raise wages at Amazon, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) launched a campaign Thursday to raise wages at Walmart and other large, profitable corporations that pay poverty-level wages.
Walmart made more than $13 billion in profits last year, while the median worker was paid just $19,177. Instead of using its profits to raise wages to a living wage of $15 an hour, 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 net worth of around $180 billion. Since 1982, the wealth of the Walton family has increased about 10,000 percent, and the family now owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. Meanwhile, 55 percent of Walmart’s associates are food insecure.
Sanders and Khanna’s legislation, The Stop WALMART Act, would prohibit large employers from buying back stock unless they:
- Pay all employees at least $15 an hour, including part-time employees, independent contractors, and franchisee employees;
- Allow employees to earn up to 7 days of paid sick leave to be used to care for themselves or a family member; and
- Ensure that CEO compensation (or the highest paid employee) is not more than 150 times the median pay of all employees. The CEO of Walmart currently makes 1,188 times as much as the median worker.
“While tens of thousands of Walmart workers are struggling to survive, Alice Walton had no problem amassing a private art collection worth half a billion dollars," Sanders said. "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."
“Walmart has refused to pay its workers a living wage, resulting in costs for taxpayers of $6.2 billion for basic necessities for survival, food stamps and housing assistance. If Walmart can find $20 billion for stock buybacks to further enrich the Waltons, it can find the money to raise the pay of its workers to a living wage. It’s time to put workers over wealthy corporation – across our nation, one company at a time. Today, I’m proud to join my friend, Senator Sanders, in introducing the Stop WALMART Act to raise wages for Walmart workers,” Khanna said.
“After seven years of service to this company without being paid a living wage, watching Walmart spend billions on share buybacks is another slap in the face. It’s not that Walmart can’t get to $15, it’s that the corporation would rather reward shareholders like the billionaire Waltons. Walmart associates don’t want Walmart charity — we work hard and deserve to be treated with respect, with a living wage and real raises for associates like me. I’m happy to see Senator Sanders and Representative Khanna have our back. It’s time for more people in Washington to step up on behalf of working folks,” said Kristi Branstetter, a Walmart worker andOUR Walmart member in Missouri.
Last year, four of the Waltons made $12.7 billion dollars in one day. To make as much as those Waltons did in one day, it would take a Walmart worker working “full-time” earning $11 an hour over 653,000 years.