New York Challenges Amazon Directors

    Stockholm (NordSIP) – Amazon’s reputation for its labour practices is no news to anyone paying attention to the intersection of technology and sustainable investing. In the latest stain on the tech giant’s record, New York City (NYC) and New York State (NYS) are now urging other investors to oppose Amazon’s management.

    The investor escalation follows repeated rejections by Amazon’s Leadership Development and Compensation Committee, to engage in constructive dialogue with New York institutional investors. In March 2022, the committee denied a request to discuss how the board exercises oversight over management’s performance with respect to their employees, particularly high injury rate relative to peers, unsustainable turnover, and labor rights violations, as well as high executive compensation. This is not the first time New York investors struggle with Amazon. The tech giant had already denied similar engagement requests by New York City in 2020.

    In response, NYC and NIS Comptrollers, Brad Lander and Thomas P. DiNapoli, respectively, have decided to escalate the issue by urging other investors to oppose the reappointment votes for Amazon Directors and longstanding committee members Daniel Huttenlocher and Judith McGrath citing unresponsiveness and insufficient oversight by the board of Amazon’s human capital management challenges.

    “As long-term investors, we are deeply concerned about the lack of independent oversight by Amazon’s board over serious workforce concerns that threaten both the well-being of their employees and the long-term value of the company. High rates of injury, rapid turnover, and aggressive anti-union activity that violates workers’ rights have created an unsustainable workplace for Amazon’s 1.6 million workers. A thriving, growing Amazon in the years ahead will require doing right by their workers. I urge shareholders to join us in voting against directors Huttenlocher and McGrath who have failed to provide adequate oversight of the company’s management of workforce issues,” said Lander.

    “We have continuously seen significant concerns about how Amazon protects its workers health and safety, and upholds its own policies on human rights and freedom of association. Shareholders need effective, independent board oversight of the company’s policies and practices related to its workforce, but unfortunately, these two directors have repeatedly failed to provide it. It’s time for responsible and engaged directors to take their place on Amazon’s board,” DiNapoli added.

    “Trustees Daniel P. Huttenlocher and Judith A. McGrath exemplify Amazon’s notorious disregard for its shift workers’ safety and wellbeing,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “Our friends, families, and neighbors who work for Amazon will be better off without Huttenlocher and McGrath crafting policies that create dangerous working conditions and violate workers’ rights, so I strongly implore shareholders to vote against Huttenlocher and McGrath’s reelection.”

    “Boards carry the responsibility of making sound, just, and healthy decisions for stakeholders of an organization or company, but when they’re the cause of poor policies that endanger employees, their re-appointment should be questioned,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “I am supporting our Comptrollers in urging Amazon shareholders to vote against the re-election of these three Board members that have committed labor violations against the company’s employees.”

    The New York City Retirement System and New York State Common Retirement Fund are leading an institutional investor group with asset valued at approximately US$5.3 billion dollars, as of February 28, 2022.


    Image courtesy of 1550152 via Pixabay
    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe is an economist with 8 years of experience in macroeconomic and financial analysis for the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UN World Institute for Development Economic Research, the Stockholm School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Filipe holds a MSc in European Political Economy from the LSE and a MSc in Economics from the University of London, where he currently is a PhD candidate.

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