Bernie Sanders asks Walmart to raise minimum wage at shareholders meeting

Channel: Fox Business
Published: 06/05/2019

Walmart hosts its annual shareholders' meeting. Senator Bernie Sanders proposed an increase in Walmart's minimum wage and to add hourly employees to the board of directors. FOX Business Network (FBN) is a financial news channel delivering real-time information across all platforms that impact b...

Only open our 49th annual shareholders meeting, it's always notable when a member of the us senate takes time to visit us, and i want to welcome senator sanders today. You know the inspectors of election today are from broadridge financial solutions and based on their report. We have a quorum and may proceed with the business of the meeting. Therefore, our meeting is now officially called to order ...
It'S 10:35 and the polls are open. Only shareholders who held shares as of the close of business on april 12th, 2019 or their proxy holders are entitled to vote shares. If you have not voted your shares or wish to change your vote, please raise your hand and the usherswill pass you a ballot like last year. As you arrived, the rules of conduct for the meeting we're being handed out. These rules are designed to ensure we have a productive and orderly meeting today, and we ask that you review and follow these procedures. If you need any assistance. Locating that information, please ask one of the ushers now. I would like to acknowledge our director nominees.

All 12 director nominees are here with us today. Thank you for your willingness to continue to serve. I would also like to welcome seize our con day, who first joined our board by appointment in february and is now standing for election for the first time. Cesar is currently thechairman of nbc universal telemundo enterprises, an nbc universal international group. He brings to our board deep expertise in consumer and media landscapes working across a range of broadcast, cable and digital platforms. Cesar, we are excited to have you on the board and next i have asked walmart president and ceo doug mcmillon, to share an update on the company's strategy and then, as chair of the board, i've designated a rachel brand, our corporate secretary, to take us through the Formal business of the meeting doug thanks greg good morning, everyone and thank you for your interest in our company. Thank you to senator sanders and all the shareholder proponents for being here today. This past fiscal yearwas, a strong one for walmart and i'd like to start by thanking our associates. This team of ours continues to amaze me. Their ability to change and grow is impressive and so important. During these times, i joined walmart more than twenty eight years ago. Was an hourly associate loading trucks in a distribution center, and i worked all over our business and i've never seen the pace and magnitude of change in retail like it is now.

Retail history teaches us that those that fail to adapt will struggle and eventually perish. So these past few years, we've made significant investments to put us on a stronger path. We'Ve invested in our associates with higher pay training andeducation in new technology for our associates and lower prices for our customers and our e-commerce business. To ensure our future, our operating margin percentage is slim and these investments hurt earnings for multiple years. We would like to thank our shareholders collectively for demonstrating understanding and some degree of patience taken together. These decisions are working, our store, traffic store sales and e-commerce sales for walmart us have been growing just a few years ago. Our us comp sales ran down for five quarters in a row, but we've now run up in comp sales for the past 19 consecutive quarters. Last year, excluding fuel and tobacco sam's club comps, increased 5. 7 percent and our international markets delivered positivecomps an 8 out of 10 markets. Our top priority is to serve customers. Sam walton was called a merchant with a servant's heart and we still embody that mindset today. Over the years, we've learned that the best way to serve our customers is by creating shared value among a broad group of stakeholders.

This means we consciously work to balance the interest of our customers, our associates, suppliers, communities, shareholders and our broader influence on the world. Those of you that follow the company closely know that we've changed a lot over the years. Let me share a few examples of the recent changes we've made for our associates that reflect both the heart of the company andsound business strategy. We'Ve moved up our starting wages in the us by 50 % in the last four years, and we continue to adjust up on a market by market basis to recruit and retain the talent. We need to run a good business. In fact, over the last four years, we've invested an incremental 4. 5 billion dollars in pay beyond our traditional annual wage increases for our us store and club associates. It'S clear by our actions and those of other companies that the federal minimum wage is lagging behind $ 7. 25 is too low. It'S time for congress to put a thoughtful plan in place to increase the minimum wage. Any plan should take into account phasing and cost-of-livingdifferences to avoid unintended consequences. In addition to our investments in pay, our hourly associates earn 793 million dollars in quarterly cash bonuses last year, on top of their hourly compensation, we established training academies here in the us and in several countries around the world we promoted more than two hundred and fifteen Thousand us store associates last year across our total us workforce, 57 % of our hourly promotions were to women and 45 percent were to people of color.

Seventy-Five percent of us store management, stannis store management started as our ees we've hired more than 225,000 us veterans. Since memorial day 2013 with a goal of hiring 250,000 by 2020, we launched a dollar a day, collegeprogram and so far more than 7,500 associates are participating. This week, we're announcing the expansion of that program to include technology degrees, more schools and support for high school students. We'Ve expanded parental leave to as much as 16 weeks of paid time off for birth mothers. We added a $ 5,000 child adoption benefit, which was an idea that came from an associate during a town hall meeting. We created centers of excellence partnering with providers such as the mayo clinic and johns hopkins for associates facing a health crisis, and we offer health care options for associates that start as low as twenty eight dollars per pay period, which is 40 % less than the national Average we cover1. 1 million associates and family members here in the us. Our work to create a more inclusive company has been recognized by the bloomberg gender equality index, the disability, equality index and the human rights campaign. Corporate equality index we've also signed on to several initiatives, including catalyst, ceo champions for change, ceo action for diversity and inclusion and paradigm for parity. Our work extends beyond customers and associates, as we take advantage of the size of the company to do good in the world. In 2005, we set an aspirational goal to be supplied by a hundred percent renewable energy and globally we're now up to 28 percent. We launched project gigaton, an initiative to avoid emissions in thesupply chain by 1 billion metric tons by 2030, and more than a thousand suppliers have signed up.

We set a goal of eliminating waste from our system entirely and we now divert 78 % of our waste from landfills through acres for america, an initiative that protects an acre of our nation's parks for every acre we develop. We'Ve developed been able to protect 1. 4 million acres since 2005 and we set a goal of selling more sustainable items and more sustainable packaging and have taken action to reduce salt and sugar from the foods we sell. Remove industrial industrially produced trans fats and lower prices on fresh fruits and vegetables. Our efforts extend to philanthropy as well last yearalone. We gave 1. 4 billion dollars in cash and in-kind gifts to projects that create opportunity, enhance sustainability and strengthen communities to fight hunger. Walmart and the walmart foundation have provided 4 billion meals to those in need, since 2014, and because of our presence and local communities were there when disaster strikes such as the devastating california wildfires last year, and the current flooding were experiencing, including here in this region. As we do with hurricanes and other disasters were supporting the community financially and with much needed supplies. Finally, we've invested in ethics and compliance around the world. We expect our associates suppliers and contractors to champion a set of values which include treating all people with respectacting with personal integrity and complying with the laws of the communities in which we operate. We provide a variety of resources for our stakeholders to raise questions or concerns, including a global helpline.

The website walmart ethics calm. When i was 16, i came to my first walmart shareholders meeting with my dad who was a dentist and had taken some of the money that he earned and bought walmart stock. As i learned more about sam his business philosophy, his family and the company, i was beyond impressed that was more than 35 years ago, and i have never been more proud of this company and our end of our associates. We'Re not perfect, but together we're listeningwe're, learning we're changing and we know we can help our customers even more and we love the challenge of helping our associates pursue their dreams through the opportunities that walmart creates. This is a company you can be proud to invest in. Thank you for your interest in walmart. Now, please allow me to introduce rachael brand. Our executive vice president of global governance and corporate secretary she'll take us through the proposals. Thank you. Thank you. Doug. As greg mentioned, this meeting is being conducted under the established rules of conduct consistent with those rules and our practice.

For many years, each person presenting a proposal will have three minutes to present it. The speakers were informed ofthese rules in advance. The clock will be visible to the speakers on both sides and, if necessary, i'll, provide a reminder when time is run out. There are six matters to be brought before the meeting today. Only these six items, if properly presented, will be voted on the first three items. Are the company proposals listed in the proxy statement as proposals one two and three respectively? The first is the election of twelve directors. Information about each director nominee can be found in the proxy statement. The second proposal is a non-binding advisory vote to approve the compensation of walmart's named executive officers. The third proposal is to ratify the appointment of ernst & young llp asthe company's independent accountants for the fiscal year ending january 31, 2020. Now we'll move on to the shareholder proposals. The first appeared is proposal number 4. In the proxy statement, ms paul and curtis will present this proposal on behalf of united for respect, miss curtis.

You have three minutes. Mr. chairman, i offer the following resolution for the united for respect. Resolved shareholders of walmart urged the board of directors to strengthen walmart's prevention of workplace, sexual harassment by formalizing, the board's oversight, responsibility, aligning senior executive compensation incentives reviewing and, if necessary, oversee and revision of company policies and reported to shareholders by december 31st, 2019 on actions. Taking a meeting omitting confidential and proprietary information myname is paula curtis. I am a 19 year walmart associate in citrus heights. I love serene my customers and consider many of my co-workers, my family, but i am deeply concerned that walmart's response to sexual harassment protects harassers and not keeps us safe. A walmart support manager repeatedly harassed one of my co-workers when she refused his advances. He retaliated by telling the managers that she was not doing her job. She bravely went to speak to the co manager and i went with her. We told him that she was being sexually harassed. We told him that the support manager had also harassed other associates, including pinning a co-worker up against a pallet against her will theco manager said he would look into it.

Meanwhile, the support manager continued harassing. We heard nothing from management about our complaint, but management parently told the harasser about the complaint and he cornered me and asked me to lie on his behalf and say that he was innocent. I refused six months later, we still didn't hear anything any results for our complaint. Instead, walmart fired my friend, the support manager, who was doing the harassing, was simply transferred to another store. My experience is not unique at united for respect. We surveyed 1,000 women at walmart. 48 % said they were concerned about women being sexually harassed or feeling unsafe at work. That is not right. Walmart has facedmultiple lawsuits and eeoc charges for sexual harassment. Not only does this harassment hurt associates, it also bad for a bottom line, potentially impacting our company's reputation. Associate retention and, ultimately, even our stock price, so, mr. macmillan, we know harassment is happening at walmart.

The question is, is what are we going to do about it? Currently, we have a weak policy and associates. Don'T trust management to take our complaints seriously as the largest corporate employer of women in the us walmart should be a leader. So let's strengthen our harassment policy by giving survivors a clearer time line on under investigation. Thank you, miss curtis. Her time has expired. Please conclude. Is a repeat offender: its holdharasser is accountable with meaningful discipline, including dismissal, and we should use top executive pay to communicate the importance of achieving real progress. Finally, let's bring harassment out of shadows at walmart and make the company a safe place to work. By adopting these proposals, thank you. Thank you, miss curtis. We appreciate your viewpoint and your service as an associate. Although we don't support this particular proposal, we do agree with you.

The sexual harassment or any type of discrimination in the workplace cannot be tolerated. We take very seriously any allegation of misconduct and we do have strong processes in place for investigating claims and taking corrective action. More information about that can be found in the proxystatement next, we'll consider their proposal mentioned in the other matters section of the proxy statement. It was submitted by ms carolyn davis. Senator bernie sanders will present this proposal on behalf of miss davis senator sanders. You have three minutes. Thank you, madam chair, and let me thank walmart, employee kat davis for introducing this resolution, and it states, and i quote, resolved shareholders of walmart urged the board to adopt a policy of promoting significant representation of employee perspectives among corporate decision-makers. By requiring that the initial list of candidates from which new nominees are chosen by the nominating governance committee include hourly associates, the policy should provide that any third party consultant asked the furnish and initiallist will be requested to include such candidates. End of quote end of resolution. Madam chair, the issue that we are dealing with today is pretty simple: walmart is the largest private employer in america and is owned by the walton family. The wealthiest family in the united states worth approximately a hundred and seventy-five billion dollars, and yet, despite the incredible wealth of its owner, walmart pays many of its employees, starvation, wages, wages that are so low that many of these employees are forced to rely on government programs. Like food stamps, medicaid and housing in order to survive, frankly, the american people are sick and tired of subsidizing, the greed of some of the largest and mostprofitable corporations in this country.

They are also outraged by the world task level of income and wealth inequality in america. As demonstrated by the ceo of walmart, making a thousand times more than the average walmart employee last year, walmart made nearly ten billion dollars in profit. It paid its ceo over twenty million dollars in compensation and it has authorized 20 million dollars in stock buybacks, which will benefit its wealthiest stockholders. Surely, with all of that, walmart can afford to pay its employees a living wage of at least $ 15 an hour, and that is not a radical idea, because many of walmart's major competitors like amazon, costco and target, have already moved in that direction. Furtherwalmart should give a voice to its workers, allowing them seats on the board of directors. The concerns of workers, nacho's stockholders, should be part of what decisions. Today, with the passage of this resolution, walmart can strike a blow against corporate greed and a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that exists in our country. Please do the right thing. Please pass this resolution. Thank you very much. Thank you. Senator sanders for your presentation and for your viewpoints.

Well, we don't support this particular proposal. The importance of listening to and investing in our associates was reflected in doug's remarks and you'll hear more about it later in the meeting will now move on to the finalshareholder proposal. It appeared as proposal number five in the proxy statement. Mr. martin herron goes. I will present this proposal. Mr. harun gozo, you have three minutes is mr. harun gozo present today he's arrived. Okay, it appears that mr. harun guesser has not arrived and therefore his proposal will not be voted on during this meeting. In that case.

That concludes the business portion of our meeting. It is 10:54 and the polls are now closed. We will announce the informal results later today and the formal results will be filed with the sec at a later time. At this time, greg penner will provide some additional remarks, followed by a brief video. I declare their meeting tobe adjourned upon the conclusion of the video greg. Thank you rachel. Thank you all for being here today and thank you to those who presented. Proposals at walmart were always striving not just to be a better business, but also a better company. We are focused on serving our customers, caring for our associates and making a difference in our communities. Broadly speaking, there are serious issues facing our country, our workforce and our economy, which require all of us, our government, the private sector and our fellow citizens to work together. Walmart is doing its part to help address these challenges. No other company in america is making a college education accessible to more than a million ofour fellow americans for only $ 1 a day.

No other company has provided enhanced workforce education for hundreds of thousands of people in just the past year alone. No other company has hired more veterans in the last six years and no other retailer has consistently delivered high quality, affordable, lighting's items to so many people better. Looking for value for their hard-earned dollar, our associates are doing an incredible job and we will continue to invest in them on behalf of the board of directors. We are proud to represent them and we will continue to work with those who are interested in finding common ground and making progress. In closing, we will share a video that captures howwe think about our associates and the great contributions they make to our customers and our communities. Thank you. [ music, ], [ music, ]. More than 1. 2 million walmart and sam's club employees will be getting a raise in their paycheck [ music ] [ music ]. The benefits are significant, including benefits for adoption for the first time in increasing the belief. So that's all good [ music, ] [ music, ], [ music, ], [ music, ], [ music, ].

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