Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) are continuing their political campaign against the 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 comparable to the average wages of other industrialized nations back in 2013.