Amazon shareholders want to pressure companies over CEO pay and workers’ injuries at annual meetings

Things are hotting up at Amazon.

The e-commerce giant is expected to face criticism from shareholders and critics – including several New York politicians – at the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday over workplace safety issues, anti-union tactics and CEO Andy Jassy’s $214 million salary package becomes.

New York Comptroller Brad Lander will speak at the meeting and take the company to task over the high injury rate suffered by workers in its warehouses, Lander’s office told the Post.

Lander and concerned shareholders are pushing for a resolution that would require Amazon to report injury rates for all warehouse workers, broken down by race, gender and ethnicity.

“High injury rates, rapid turnover and aggressive anti-union activity that violates workers’ rights have created an unsustainable workplace for Amazon’s 1.6 million workers,” said Lander, who oversees public pensions for the NYPD, FDNY and teachers.

Additionally, Lander and New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli are urging shareholders to oust two Amazon directors, Judith McGrath and Daniel Huttenlocher, over Amazon’s labor practices and Jassy’s compensation.

The city’s pension managers complain that Amazon has suppressed their concerns about health and safety practices for years.

Brad Lander
New York auditor Lander is expected to speak at Amazon’s shareholder meeting.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“They didn’t answer us,” said a source close to the pension funds. “Instead, we received a response from management with the familiar refrain: ‘Although our directors meet with shareholders, we cannot accommodate all such requests.'”

The proposals are seen as far-fetched as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos controls 12.7% of the vote — and many shareholders typically align themselves with the company’s leadership, which has opposed every shareholder resolution this year. The company argues that it spends a lot of money on workplace safety and does not interfere with workers’ right to organize.

However, shareholder decisions can put pressure on Amazon. After a proposal for a racial justice audit nearly passed last year with more than 44% of the vote, Amazon then hired former Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch to commission a report on the issue.

Amazon
Amazon has been accused of unsafe work practices.
Only Photo via Getty Images

Lander and DiNapoli aren’t the only New Yorkers who are a thorn in Amazon’s side.

Union leader Chris Smalls, who successfully led efforts to unionize 8,300 Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island last month, is pushing for a shareholder resolution that would require Amazon to commission a report on steps taken to protect “freedom of association.” of the workers are undertaken.

The resolution, which is also supported by Norges Bank, says Amazon has faced “overwhelming negative media coverage” of “anti-union tactics, including allegations of intimidation tactics, retaliation and surveillance systems.”

Two influential investor advisers, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, have endorsed both the freedom of association and workplace injury proposals, the Financial Times reported.

Chris Klein
Amazon union leader Chris Smalls is pushing for a shareholder resolution that would oblige Amazon to commission a report on steps being taken to protect workers’ “freedom of association”.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Both Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services have taken a stand against Jassy’s compensation package ahead of the meeting, which is the first chaired by the CEO since Bezos left the company last year. Institutional Shareholder Services called Jassy’s $214 million package “overkill” and argued that it had “no connection to objective, pre-determined performance criteria,” according to the Financial Times.

An Amazon spokesman argued that the $214 million figure is reasonable because it represents Jassy’s stock awards, which vest over 10 years.

“What this means from an annual compensation perspective is competitive with CEOs of other large companies and has been approved by Amazon’s board of directors,” a spokesman said.

The shareholder effort follows several other high-profile conflicts between the Empire State and Amazon.

On May 18, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the New York City Department of Human Rights had filed a complaint against Amazon alleging that the company discriminates against pregnant workers and workers with disabilities by denying them reasonable accommodation.

And most famously, Bezos scrapped plans for the company’s HQ2 in Queens in 2019 after local leaders questioned Amazon’s tax-break-laden deal.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/24/amazon-shareholders-set-to-pressure-company-over-ceo-pay-worker-injuries-at-annual-meeting/ Amazon shareholders want to pressure companies over CEO pay and workers’ injuries at annual meetings

JACLYN DIAZ

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