Shareholders at Amazon don’t want working conditions in the megacompany’s warehouses to be audited for safety and labor conditions.
Wednesday’s meeting of shareholders at Amazon was largely focused on worker’s rights and company transparency, with proposals coming from pro-labor activists and worker advocates. Amazon warehouse workers spoke at the meeting, asking for comprehensive reports on worker injury rates, warehouse safety records, and employee complaints.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the union which has made organizing eligible Amazon workers its priority, was also there to speak of the company’s terrible safety record and reputation as an employer.
The proposal for a comprehensive, fully independent audit of warehouse working conditions and injuries came from the warehouse workers. Under recommendation from Amazon executives, the major shareholders voted down that proposal, and fourteen other proposals asked for in the meeting. Every proposal originating from the workers was voted down by a majority, according to Amazon’s preliminary voting results. Full vote totals will be released later, in regulatory filings. These votes are non-binding, but give the Amazon board a tool to use to justify continued inaction.
The only resolutions the shareholders at Amazon voted in on Wednesday were new, increased compensation packages for six of the company’s top staff, including CEO Andy Jassy. Jassy’s compensation package last year was worth $213 million, while the lowest-paid Amazon workers, the dock workers loading and unloading trucks, make an average of $20,000 annually. Average annual rent in the U.S. right now is $21,840.
The proposals will be back in future shareholder meetings, despite the temporary defeat.
“The shareholder proposals and these campaigns, they are often multi-year efforts. A proposal that goes out for the first time doesn’t usually win a majority vote, oftentimes these things take more than a couple of years,” said Mike Conner, director of worker advocacy group Open Mic. “For the companies in some ways, some of these proposals are like the canary in the coal mine. We are alerting the company to important issues.”
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