Amazon faces shareholder vote on treatment of warehouse workers

  • Follow SEC support to vote after the directive change
  • Presented by the retail activist platform Tulipshare

LONDON, April 7 (Reuters) – Inc. (AMZN.O)the world’s largest retailer, will face a shareholder vote demanding an independent review of its treatment of warehouse workers after the largest US securities regulator rejected the company’s request to override the decision.

Supporters said the decision means Amazon investors will vote on the issue for the first time, taking advantage of guidance from the US Securities and Exchange Commission in November that made it more supportive of voting on important social issues. Read more

Amazon, founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, has come under increasing criticism in recent years for its treatment of workers, including allegations of poor working conditions in its warehouses and attempts to ban labor unions. Read more

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With investors globally pushing companies to look after their workforce as part of a growing focus on social issues, activist platform for London retail investors Tulipshare helped drive a resolution that seeks to shine a light on Amazon’s practices.

Specifically, the proposal – submitted on behalf of an investor in Tulipchar, Thomas Dadashi Tazihuzi – asked the company to commission an independent audit and report on the company’s working conditions.

While Amazon asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow them to refuse to put the resolution to a vote, claiming that the case involved normal business operations, it was not approved by an April 6 letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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“From our point of view, Tazehuzi’s proposal goes beyond ordinary business matters,” reads the letter, seen by Reuters.

Amazon declined to comment on the SEC’s response when contacted by Reuters. An annual general meeting of shareholders is scheduled for May 25.

A separate shareholder resolution seeking a workplace health and safety review submitted to the company by investors including the Domini Impact Equity Fund was not backed by the regulator, though.

Noting that the second decision was a “substantial repetition” of the first, the Securities and Exchange Commission said there was some basis for the company’s request to be allowed to skip the vote, and it would not recommend executive action if Amazon did so.

Last week, about 55% of workers who cast their votes at a warehouse in New York City, Staten Island, voted to form Amazon’s first American union.

In its objection to the National Labor Relations Board, Amazon on Thursday accused the union, called the Amazon Workers Union, of threatening to act against employees unless they vote to regulate. The union’s lawyer called the assertion “really ridiculous”. Read more

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(Reporting by Simon Jessup), Additional reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Mark Porter

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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