Last night, Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.) hosted a town hall discussion at the Congressional Auditorium in the Capitol Visitor Center to address wealth inequality in the United States. “CEOs vs. Workers,” which live streamed across several internet channels nationwide, invited workers from Disneyland, McDonald’s, American Airlines, Walmart, and Amazon to discuss stagnant wages, poor working conditions, living wages and the right to collective bargaining.
Five of the panelists were low-wage employees: Adrianna Alvarez, a single mom who works at McDonald’s in Chicago, makes $12.50/hour after eight years; Artemis Bell, a Disneyland employee, is a night shift custodian who makes $11.86/hour, less than $2 above her starting wage after seven years; Heather Hudson, a gate agent at American Airlines-Piedmont Air in North Carolina, has worked there for 11 years. She makes $13.47/hour and has to work 50 hours a week just to make ends meet. She’s a single mom who must rely on food stamps; Cynthia Murray, a Walmart employee in Maryland, works 32 hours a week and makes $14.39/hour after 17 years, and Seth King, a former Amazon employee, worked as a night shift stower for two months, after being in the Navy for eight years. Even working 40 hours a week, he needed a second job as a security guard to make ends meet, according to Heavy.com.
While all of the invited employees attended, none of the CEOs invited to join the panel showed up. The invited CEOs included Bob Iger of Disney, Doug Parker of American Airlines, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Doug McMillon of Walmart, and Steve Easterbrook of McDonald’s.
“The United States is the richest country in the history of the world, and yet due to outrageous levels of inequality there are millions of workers who live in poverty or can barely get by,” Sen. Sanders said.
A conversation surrounding corporate power in America and how to move forward to create an economy that works for all people, not just a few at the top,” was discussed in depth at the town hall.
“I stand with the Amazon workers fighting for decent working conditions and a living wage on Prime Day,” Sen. Sanders said. “Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ wealth increases by $275 million every single day. Meanwhile, Amazon workers are afraid to take bathroom breaks at work and have to rely on food stamps and public assistance just to survive. This is what a rigged economy looks like and it must end.”