Funds including BCI, CalSTRS, CalPERS, CPPIB and IMCO backed a shareholder proposal filed by SHARE on freedom of association and collective bargaining at Amazon’s shareholder meeting
TORONTO, May 30, 2022 – More than 47% of independent shareholders voted in favour of a proposal filed by SHARE and the Catherine Donnelly Foundation at Amazon’s May 25 annual meeting. The proposal requests Amazon’s board of directors to review how the Company’s actions in the face of union organizing efforts align with its stated commitment to freedom of association and collective bargaining and core International Labour Organization Conventions.
Angelika Maldonado, a leader with the Staten Island, NY based Amazon Labor Union spoke to the resolution, on SHARE’s behalf. Maldonado did not mince words: “Amazon management wasted millions of dollars in anti-union consultants and it all backfired,” she said. “What a waste of time and money.”
“This vote is historic” said Anthony Schein, Director of Shareholder Advocacy at SHARE. “Amazon’s human capital management practices are notorious, and the company’s interference in freedom of association is well documented. We have never seen such a strong vote on a North American company’s direct, workforce practices.” Moldonado cited leading brands that each have committed to respecting basic association rights – including UPS, Kaiser, Kroger, and General Motors.
The list of asset owners and managers that declared votes in support of the proposal includes is extensive. Pension fund heavyweights CalPERS, CalSTRS, New York City Pension, and the Florida, Wisconsin funds, Texas Teachers all backed the proposal, along with the some of largest Canadian funds, including CPPIB, AIMCO, IMCO, and BCI. Asset managers declaring in support included Schroders and Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM). Leading proxy advisors Institutional Shareholders Service (ISS) and Glass Lewis also expressed support for the proposal despite management’s opposition.
“This is a big win for workers, and for investors who recognize that good human capital management practices are crucial to companies’ success. As one of the largest employers in the world, Amazon has the power to influence labour rights globally”, said Sarah Couturier-Tanoh, Manager of Corporate Engagement and Shareholder Advocacy at SHARE.
“Amazon can no longer ignore its union problem as workers, investors and regulators expect the board and the management to demonstrate a genuine intention to respect workers’ rights, including freedom of association and collective bargaining across its operations.”
Amazon has been subject a barrage of negative media coverage in the U.S and internationally in recent years. The company has been accused of limiting fundamental rights through the use of intimidation strategies, retaliation actions and surveillance systems. Such practices directly contradict Amazon’s own commitment “to non-discrimination and non-retaliation that ensures equal treatment for union and non-union employees.”
SHARE has filed a similar proposal at Tesla Inc, which will be voted on at the company’s August 4 AGM. Tesla is a leader in electric vehicle manufacturing – and has faced accusations of discrimination and harassment in its workforce practices.