Amazon CEO Andy Gacy made the first shareholder meeting a resounding success to lead Amazon and Gacy’s bank account. But for activist investors bent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it has been nothing short of a disaster.
While the actual voting results have yet to be announced, Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky Tell Reuters that stockholders voted against Fifteen Shareholder Resolutions Addressing topics including workplace safety, work organization, sustainability and pay equity. Amazon’s board recommended a No vote on all proposals.
Jassy and the board scored additional wins in the form of shareholder approval of board appointments, executive compensation, and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy’s executive compensation package, tied to Amazon’s share price and delivered mostly as stock awards over a multi-year period, was 212 million dollars in 2021.
Amazon said in its proxy statement before the meeting that executive compensation has been incredibly effective, although some shareholders recently said they believe the pay scale is unfair and disproportionate to Amazon’s average salary. Warehouse workers usually earn about $15 an hour, for example.
Activist contributors defeated
Amazon has faced a lot of ups and downs in recent years due to the way it treats its employees, as well as its poor environmental record. The stories of Amazon workers are part of the cultural zeitgeist: bottled drivers and warehouse workers trapped during a hurricane made headlines.
Momentum has been moving towards Amazon hourly workers, active and organized contributors lately, with win over In forming a warehouse consortium in New York City after officials forced a second vote due to Amazon’s interference.
It didn’t take long for that momentum to wear off, and only a few weeks later a second warehouse in New York City voted Amazon not to form union. Defeating all proposals of active shareholders is unlikely to help.
All the proposals differed in purpose, but most took the same form: the reports. The contributors who presented them wanted investigations into areas where they believed Amazon was less than honest or forward-looking.
Shareholder proposals requested reports on:
- Whether Amazon Retirement Plans Invested in a Sustainable Business
- Whether AWS performs due diligence to learn whether cloud customers are using its services in a way that contributes to human rights abuses
- Specific uses of Amazon technologies by government agencies that violate privacy and civil rights
- How to change the manager nomination process to require the inclusion of hourly workers
- Amazon Packaging Sustainability
- Worker health and safety disparities between company employees and hourly workers
- Warehouse general working conditions
- Whether Amazon’s use of concealment clauses “in the context of harassment, discrimination, and unlawful acts” has created a risk to contributors
- Whether Amazon’s charitable donations are in line with the interests of the contributors
- Alternative forms of tax reporting
- Whether freedom of association has been violated
- Where do Amazon lobby dollars go?
- Diversity and Equality Review
- Gender/Ethnic Pay Disparity
In addition, shareholders suggested adding more candidates than board seats to the ballot, which was also defeated.
Amazon has responded to most suggestions with a reluctance to “we’ve already disclosed this,” or “we’ve already done it.” Among the proposals aimed at highlighting the treatment of employees at its facilities, Amazon said it has significantly reduced accident rates and is committed to health and safety at its facilities.
Jeff Bezos thinks I have a lot of money. Hmmm, pay more taxes? Employee salaries more? Nah, let’s just go to space
This claim contradicts data reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2021, which found that Amazon warehouse workers were infected Almost twice as often Like those who work in similar facilities. To support its claim that worker safety is improving, Amazon has shared its lost-time accident rate, which is relatively low. Amazon didn’t say whether that statistic includes office workers, whose injury numbers will bring the average down significantly.
In response to Environmental Reports’ proposals, Amazon has claimed to be a leader there as well. In 2021 Amazon reported that its carbon emissions were up 19 percent, but its carbon spending per dollar of profit was lower, making the company greener despite the fact that its total emissions are up. ®