Sen. Bernie Sanders is inviting the corporate bosses of four major American companies to face their employees during a livestreamed town hall event in Washington on July 16.
“I really hope (the CEOs) have the guts to sit on a panel with their own employees and explain why it’s acceptable that they receive huge compensation packages while their very own workers are struggling to put food on the table,” Sanders said in an interview. “I hope they have the courage to do so. The invitation is sincere.”
Letters addressed to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Doug McMillon of Walmart, Steve Easterbrook of McDonald’s and Disney’s Bob Iger will be sent on Thursday.
“My staff and I have spoken with Disney workers who are hungry, homeless, or struggling to make ends meet,” Sanders writes to Iger in one of the invites. He then quotes an employee who says, “I currently don’t make enough to eat three times a day. I eat cans of tuna or celery sticks and carrots because that’s what I can afford.”
Each letter contains similar, often harrowing testimonials from employees woven in with admonitions from Sanders over the massive disparity between worker pay and executive compensation.
READ the letters:
“It is beyond belief,” Sanders said Wednesday, “that a company like Disney, when they made $9 billion in profits last year, that you have working people there (at Disneyland), who walk around and they’re in Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse costumes, or serve food, who literally don’t have enough money to pay their rent.”
The July town hall, which will be presented in partnership with digital media outlets and progressive groups including act.tv, NowThis, The Young Turks, The Guardian, ATTN:, Free Speech TV, The Nation magazine, CREDO Mobile, MoveOn and Good Jobs Nation, will be Sanders’ fourth live, online-only event this year.
The first three, featuring panels on “Medicare for all,” inequality and, most recently, the Iran nuclear deal, have racked up nearly 5 million views.
Original videos on Sanders’ Facebook page routinely draw hundreds of thousands of viewers. A clip posted on Tuesday morning featuring a couple “faced with the choice of getting divorced or declaring bankruptcy to pay for medical bills” had surpassed 2 million views by Wednesday night.
Whether or not the executives turn up to his discussion next month, Sanders, a regular cable news guest following his 2016 presidential campaign, expects the eyeballs to roll in – and see something, as he views it, more substantive than what’s being offered across major media outlets.
“What I want to do with our efforts,” he said, “is to have people turn on the damn computer and say, ‘You know what? Sanders and the people up there are talking about my life.’ “