- Retail investors, as well as larger institutional shareholders, will have their say on the controversial issue after an activist investor successfully gained a place on the proxy statement.
- The proposal asks Amazon to conduct an independent audit on the working conditions and treatment of its warehouse workers.
- Tulipshare is calling for more individual investors to vote on the issue ahead of the company’s AGM on 25th May.
London, 20th April 2022: 2022 marks the first time that Amazon investors will be asked to vote on workers’ rights, after activist investor platform Tulipshare successfully defeated Amazon’s attempt to exclude the proposal from this year’s proxy statement once the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) determined that Tulipshare’s proposal transcends Amazon’s ordinary business matters. Despite decades of criticism over the treatment of Amazon workers, the issue has never before been put to a vote at the company’s AGM. Tulipshare’s proposal is listed as Item #16 on Amazon’s 2022 proxy statement.
The proposal was submitted on behalf of a Tulipshare investor concerned about continuing reports that Amazon employees are being subjugated to unsafe working conditions and unfair treatment on a global scale, including the company’s attempts to block unionisation of warehouse workers. The investor transferred Amazon securities onto the Tulipshare investing platform, thus allowing Tulipshare to submit the proposal for inclusion on the company’s 2022 proxy statement.
Amazon has historically been successful in preventing investors from having a say on workers’ rights. However, new guidance from the SEC issued in November 2021 no longer allows companies to exclude proposals that raise significant social policy issues that transcend a company’s “ordinary business” operations. Nevertheless, Amazon requested to exclude the proposal under the ordinary business exception citing similar proposals that were excluded in the past.
The SEC rejected the request and agreed with Tulipshare that Amazon can no longer avoid an independent audit of the working conditions and treatment that workers face by hiding behind the ordinary business exception. Tulipshare’s proxy fight win against Amazon is precedent setting for human capital management, which is the strategic way that a company manages its employees to maximize efficiency and performance.
Amazon’s human capital management strategy implements constant surveillance, demanding quotas which lead to high injury and turnover rates, and a “time-off-task” tracking system that punishes employees for taking too many bathroom breaks. The SEC’s decision upholds Tulipshare’s argument that the extreme conditions Amazon employees experience rise to the level of a significant social policy that transcends ordinary business. We believe this is a huge win for Amazon employees, activists, and warehouse workers at large – who have been fighting for better working conditions as we will now be able to present this issue at Amazon’s AGM.
Shareholders will now be asked to vote on the issue at the company’s AGM, which is scheduled for May 25th; those who owned shares as of the estimated record date of March 31, 2022 are eligible to vote at the AGM. Amazon’s top ten shareholders, which include Vanguard, Blackrock, T. Rowe Price Associates, Fidelity, and Northern Trust Investments, will play a significant role in deciding whether Tulipshare’s proposal will pass at the company’s AGM.
However, Tulipshare also wants retail investors who have benefited from the strong stock’s performance but are concerned about its treatment of workers to have their say. Recent Tulipshare polling revealed that only 1 in 4 investors surveyed (22%) always exercise their ‘shareholder rights’ and vote on key issues at companies they invest in. Not all shareholders have shares that have voting rights attached to them. If you are wanting to know if you can vote at the upcoming AGM you will need to check the details of your holdings and ask the relevant stock brokerage platform how you are to cast your vote. It is important to remember that any Amazon shares purchased after March 31, 2022 will not provide voting rights for this upcoming AGM.
The activist investment platform also hopes the proposal will send a message to companies worldwide that retail investors are willing to unite their shareholder rights and ensure accountability on social issues.
Antoine Argouges, Chief Executive and Founder of Tulipshare comments: “Having our proposal on the ballot marks a momentous step in accountability. Thousands of retail investors expressed interest in our Amazon campaign as they are concerned about the welfare of Amazon’s warehouse workers. This AGM provides the opportunity for all shareholders to have their say on what has been an enormous workers’ rights issue. We hope to be joined by many shareholders and we welcome other like-minded retail investors to have their say on the proposal and our continued engagements with the company by joining our campaign.”