Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Rev. William Barber II speaks in El Paso. Photo: Luke E. Montavon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rev. William Barber II of the Poor People’s Campaign is joining a growing movement to press Walmart for employee representation on the company’s board, Axios reports.

Driving the news: Barber, a leading figure on the Christian left, tells Axios that in remarks to shareholders this week, he'll tie the fate of workers who fell ill or died from COVID-19 to the company's sick leave policies.

Why it matters: Employee representation is a concept gaining traction among Washington lawmakers. Walmart is the world's largest retailer and the nation's biggest company by revenue.

Details: Barber is set on Wednesday to address Walmart shareholders virtually during an annual meeting, and he'll ask them to create a “Pandemic Workforce Advisory Council” made up of hourly workers to advise the board. A newspaper and digital ad campaign is running between now and the meeting.

  • Shareholders are set to vote on a proposal by Cynthia Murray, a 20-year Walmart associate, to create the council and give employees more say in some corporate decisions.
  • Barber is attending at the request of the employee group United for Respect.

What they're saying: In prepared remarks reviewed by Axios, Barber says there are "perhaps hundreds of your workers who are not alive today because of this vicious coronavirus that was allowed to spread through your stores, largely in secret, as your workers feared for their lives every day."

  • He says even more suffered because "they were too poor to stay home from work, too afraid of retaliation to get the time off."
  • Barber tells Axios that Walmart workers should receive a larger portion of the company's wealth, earn at least $15 an hour and "need to sit in places of power, where people are making decisions that will impact their lives for a long time."

The other side: Walmart, through a spokesperson, tells Axios that associates unable to work or uncomfortable working due to COVID-19 have been encouraged to stay home.

The intrigue: Walmart tried to get SEC relief so it could exclude the proposal from the shareholder meeting, but the agency declined.

  • The company said it works with third-party advisory councils shaping its thinking in areas including its human rights statement — and that in the past year it raised wages; improved benefits, health and safety measures, and joined efforts involving racial equity.
  • "We believe our workforce strategy is designed to promote upward mobility for our diverse workforce and is consistent with our broader goals and initiatives regarding racial equity," the company said.

Yes, but: Colorado State Treasurer Dave Young, who supports the Walmart proposal, said the state suffered massive losses and costs because Walmart employees got sick and suffered from low pay.

  • "I'm not dismissing the work that Walmart has attempted to do already, but I just think that this proposal actually adds value and gives a different perspective that may actually reveal some strategies that they haven't even considered."

Don't forget: Walmart has a cadre of corporate social responsibility programs that have all become more of its corporate narrative in recent years, Axios' Worth Sparkman reports.

  • Through its Walmart Foundation, the company donated $1.4 billion to many of those causes in fiscal 2020.

Go deeper

Private sector wants in on America's student debt crisis

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies are starting to play a role in chipping away at America's mounting pile of student debt.

Why it matters: Widespread student debt relief proposals have stalled in Washington. Businesses are seizing on an opening that benefits them too: a perk that lures workers — and in some cases, a tax break.

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.