Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Wednesday that the $7.25 federal minimum wage is “too low,” and urged Congress to act to push it higher.
“The federal minimum wage is lagging behind,” McMillon said during the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas. “$7.25 is too low.”
Walmart is the nation’s largest private employer with more than 1.5 million US workers. McMillon said it’s clear by Walmart’s actions and “those of other companies” that it’s time for a change to the federal minimum wage.
Walmart increased its starting wages to $11 an hour last year, and Amazon, Walmart’s biggest rival, increased its starting wages to $15 in November.
“It’s time for Congress to put a thoughtful plan in place to increase the minimum wage,” McMillon said. “Any plan should take into account phasing and cost of living differences to avoid unintended consequences.”
McMillon made the remarks as Walmart faces scrutiny from Sen. Bernie Sanders and labor groups over the wages it pays store employees.
Sanders attended the Walmart shareholders meeting on Wednesday and introduced a proposal to add hourly workers to the corporate board.
“Walmart is the largest private employer in America and is owned by the Walton family, the wealthiest family in the United States worth approximately $175 billion,” Sanders said in three minutes of prepared remarks before Walmart shareholders and executives, including McMillon. “And yet despite the incredible wealth of its owner, Walmart pays many of its employees starvation wages.”