Bernie Sanders Wants Walmart To Join Amazon In $15 Minimum Wage

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, and an image of a Walmart store, right.
Ethan Miller / Tim Boyle / Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is on a mission to raise the minimum wage for workers at retail stores across America.

Sanders previously led criticism of online shopping retailer Amazon for its failure to pay its workers a living wage, according to reporting from the Verge. Through criticism from Sanders and others, the company eventually decided to change its pay structure, offering all minimum wage employees at least $15 per hour for the work they performed.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in October. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

Now, Sanders has a new company he wants to see change its ways: Walmart.

The Vermont senator is joining Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) in introducing a new bill called the “Stop Walmart Act.” The bill would effectively punish large retailers like Walmart if they don’t pay their workers a $15 minimum wage.

Corporations that refuse to do so would be limited from buying back their own stock unless they raised pay for workers. The bill would also require companies like these to give their workers some benefits, like sick leave, according to reporting from Business Insider.

Sanders pointed out that workers at Walmart are struggling to make ends meet while the corporation’s CEO is doing tremendously well.

“Most Walmart retail workers are working for horrendously low wages with minimal benefits. The wealthiest family in America must pay its workers a living wage, and the Stop Walmart Act will do just that.”

Sanders, who ran for president as a Democrat but lost in the primary elections races to eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, cited the changes that happened with Amazon, and how their new guidelines for pay will help workers in big ways.

“Amazon did the right thing by raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Walmart can and must do the same,” Sanders said.

Presently, Walmart pays its workers a base wage of $11 per hour. That’s well above the federal guidelines of $7.25 per hour, but many see it as still being too low for a worker, especially one with a family, to survive. At $11 per hour, a Walmart employee working 40 hours per week would make about $22,000 — a rate of pay that’s below the federal poverty level guidelines for a family of four, which is around $24,600 per year, according to reporting from Bloomberg.

According to reporting from MarketWatch, CEO pay at Walmart is exceedingly higher than the median employee’s income. The average CEO for the corporation earns a paycheck that’s 1,188 times higher than that worker’s take-home pay.