Can Bernie Sanders force Walmart to raise its minimum wage?
Senator Bernie Sanders (I – VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D – CA) have introduced legislation that would prevent companies with at least 500 employees from engaging in stock buybacks if they do not pay workers a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour.
The proposed bill, Stop Welfare for Any Large Monopoly Amassing Revenue from Taxpayers Act (aka the Stop Walmart Act), would also cap CEO compensation at no more than 150 times the median pay of all workers and provide a mechanism for employees to earn up to seven days paid sick leave.
The introduction of the legislation follows a similar public relations push by Sen. Sanders against Amazon.com. The e-tail giant recently increased its minimum hourly wage to $15.
The bill takes direct aim at Walmart’s $20 billion plan to reacquire company stock over the next two years. A study by the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank, concluded that Walmart could raise the pay of its lowest wage workers by $5.66 an hour with half of the funds being used for the buyback.
“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,” said Rep. Khanna in a statement.
In January, Walmart announced it was increasing its minimum wage from $9 an hour to $11 while distributing one-off bonuses for workers of up to $1,000 following the 2017 passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
A National Retail Federation analysis concluded that the average employee of a U.S. “C” corporation is being paid nearly $4,700 less per year based on the previous corporate tax rate of 35 percent. In his first state of the union address, President Trump said lowering the rate to 21 percent would help “increase average family income by more than $4,000.”
- Sanders, Khanna Introduce The Stop WALMART Act to Put Workers Over Shareholders – Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator for Vermont
- Stop Welfare for Any Large Monopoly Amassing Revenue from Taxpayers Act – Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator for Vermont
- Limits on Stock Buybacks at Walmart Could Mean Huge Raises For Working Families – The Roosevelt Institute
- Will Amazon’s new $15 an hour minimum wage mess up rivals’ seasonal hiring plans? – RetailWire
- Will retailers regret raising worker expectations around corporate tax cuts? – RetailWire
- Walmart CEO says ‘Happy New Year’ with pay raise for employees – RetailWire
- Will Target’s wage hikes be a differentiator? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where do you stand on the benefits of stock buybacks versus other investments that retailers can make with available funds? What factors — political/public pressure, labor market competition, other concerns — are likely to be the biggest driver of wages and benefits for hourly workers at Walmart and other large retailers?