Finance

Amazon shareholders reject 15 motions on worker rights and environment


Amazon shareholders have rejected 15 resolutions brought forward by investors in a push to influence the company’s environmental impact and treatment of workers.

Shareholders voted on Wednesday against all the resolutions, most of which focused on worker rights and other social issues. The resolutions included calls for the company to report on worker health and safety and the treatment of its warehouse workers, and a review of Amazon’s use of plastic and changes to the company’s process for board nominations.

Amazon’s board had recommended that its shareholders vote against all resolutions, arguing in its proxy statement that it has already acted to address the underlying concerns of many of the proposals. Historically shareholders have voted with the board’s recommendations. Jeff Bezos, the company’s executive chairman, controls 12.7% of the overall vote.

While the resolutions are non-binding, companies often take some form of action if they receive the backing of 30% to 40% of votes. While the activist resolutions were shut down, investors approved executive compensation, board members and a stock split.

A proposal from the activist investor group Tulipshare called on Amazon to conduct an independent audit of warehouse workers’ wages and working conditions. Though the vote did not pass, the group plans to resubmit the motion next year.

“Whilst we are disappointed that our proposal did not pass today, this vote was just the beginning in the fight for workers’ rights,” said Antoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare, adding that Amazon had not yet disclosed the full outcome of the vote, or by what percentage the proposal was rejected.

“Based on the positive conversations we have had with major shareholders this week, we have every reason to believe our proposal received strong backing,” Argouges said. “Once the results are published, we will consider our options for continuing the fight for better working conditions at Amazon.”

The increase in the number of resolutions underscores the rise of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG)-based investing, which is spurring more shareholders to push for corporate accountability.

It also reflects changes under securities regulators appointed by Joe Biden that have made it easier for investors to file proposals and more difficult for companies to convince regulators that these resolutions should not go to a shareholder vote.

The record of 15 resolutions is already expected to be surpassed next week, when Google’s parent company, Alphabet, faces 17 social-justice-minded proposals on 1 June, said the research firm Insightia, the most since it began tracking them comprehensively in 2014.

Reuters contributed to this report



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