Thursday, April 21, 2022

New York City and State Pension Funds Launch “VOTE NO” Campaign Against Against the Re-election of Two Amazon Board Directors Responsible for Oversight of Human Capital Management


Citing Unresponsiveness to Shareholder Concerns About High Injury Rates, Unsustainable Turnover, and Labor Rights Violations, NYC and NYS Pension Trustees Urge Votes ‘AGAINST’ Amazon Directors Huttenlocher and McGrath.

 New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, and trustees of all five of the New York City Retirement Systems launched a campaign urging shareholders to vote against the re-election of two Amazon board directors responsible for human capital management. The New York City Retirement System and New York State Common Retirement Fund are leading an institutional investor group with 1.7 million combined shares as of February 28, 2022 currently valued at approximately $5.3 billion dollars.

In a letter to shareholders filed today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Comptrollers Lander and DiNapoli detailed concerns regarding the unresponsiveness and insufficient oversight by the board of Amazon’s human capital management challenges. The two retirement systems urged shareholders to vote against the re-election of Daniel Huttenlocher and Judith McGrath, longstanding members of Amazon’s Leadership Development and Compensation Committee. They cited Amazon’s high injury rate relative to peers, unsustainable turnover, and labor rights violations, as well as high executive compensation as evidence of the Committee’s misplaced priorities.

Comptrollers Lander and DiNapoli sought to meet with the Committee in March 2022 to discuss how the board exercises oversight over management’s performance with respect to their employees, particularly in the areas of health and safety, freedom of association, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Amazon declined to make board directors available for a meeting. This follows a request that New York City made to engage with the Committee back in 2020, which was similarly denied. For more on the campaign, visit:

“As long-term investors, we are deeply concerned about the lack of independent oversight by Amazon’s board over serious workforce concerns that threaten both the well-being of their employees and the long-term value of the company. High rates of injury, rapid turnover, and aggressive anti-union activity that violates workers’ rights have created an unsustainable workplace for Amazon’s 1.6 million workers. A thriving, growing Amazon in the years ahead will require doing right by their workers. I urge shareholders to join us in voting against directors Huttenlocher and McGrath who have failed to provide adequate oversight of the company’s management of workforce issues,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander.

“We have continuously seen significant concerns about how Amazon protects its workers health and safety, and upholds its own policies on human rights and freedom of association. Shareholders need effective, independent board oversight of the company’s policies and practices related to its workforce, but unfortunately, these two directors have repeatedly failed to provide it. It’s time for responsible and engaged directors to take their place on Amazon’s board,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. 

“The conditions in Amazon warehouses are unsafe, inhumane, and unsustainable for Amazon’s workers and cannot be tolerated by its shareholders,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “Coupled with Amazon’s hostile relationship with its workforce and unethical anti-union activity, it’s clear that something needs to change operationally, culturally, and in senior management. Amazon must invest in its own employees if it is to remain a strong, stable investment for New York City’s employees. As a voting member of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, I ask Amazon shareholders to vote against the re-election of Daniel P. Huttenlocher and Judith A. McGrath as they have proven time and time again to overlook serious and grave issues in Amazon’s warehouses, both in New York City and across the country.”

“As Executive Director of District Council 37, New York City’s largest municipal union, and as  a NYCERS Trustee, DC 37 stands in support of New York City and State Pension Funds’ launch of a “Vote No” campaign against two Amazon Board members responsible for oversight of human capital management.  Amazon has an appalling record with regards to  anti-union actions and suppressing workers’ rights, has high injury rates relative to its industry and excessively high employee turnover.   As a NYCERS trustee, I look to NYCERS and the other New York City Retirement Systems, City Comptroller Lander and State Comptroller DiNapoli to move Amazon to respect its workers by providing them with safe working conditions and a living wage, and recognizing their right to organize.  DC 37 supports all workers’ efforts to improve their lives,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of District Council 37.

Trustees of the New York City Retirement Systems are as follows:

New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS): New York City Comptroller Brad Lander; Mayor Eric Adams’ Representative Preston Niblack (Chair); New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Borough Presidents: Mark Levine (Manhattan), Donovan Richards (Queens), Antonio Reynoso (Brooklyn), Vito Fossella (Staten Island), and Vanessa L. Gibson (Bronx); Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME; Tony Utano, President Transport Workers Union Local 100; and Gregory Floyd, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.

Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS): New York City Comptroller Brad Lander; Mayor Eric Adams’ Appointee Philip Dukes; Chancellor’s Representative, Lindsey Oates, New York City Department of Education; and Debra Penny (Chair), Thomas Brown and David Kazansky, all of the United Federation of Teachers.

New York City Police Pension Fund (PPF): New York City Comptroller Brad Lander; Mayor Eric Adams’ Representative Philip Dukes; New York City Finance Commissioner Preston Niblack; New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell (Chair); Chris Monahan, Captains Endowment Association; Louis Turco, Lieutenants Benevolent Association; Vincent Vallelong, Sergeants Benevolent Association; Paul DiGiacomo, Detectives Endowment Association; and Patrick Lynch, John Puglissi, Joseph Alejandro, and Thomas Gilmore, all of the NYC Police Benevolent Association.

New York City Fire Pension Fund (Fire): New York City Comptroller Brad Lander; Mayor Eric Adams’ Representative Philip Dukes; Acting New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh (Chair); New York City Finance Commissioner Preston Niblack; Andrew Ansbro, President, Robert Eustace, Vice President, Edward Brown, Treasurer, and Eric Bischoff, Staten Island Representative and Chair, Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York; Liam Guilfoyle, Captains’ Rep.; Paul Mannix, Chiefs’ Rep., and Christopher Jensen, Lieutenants’ Rep., Uniformed Fire Officers Association; and Peter Devita, Marine Engineers Association.

Board of Education Retirement System (BERS): Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, Represented by Lindsey Oates; Mayoral: Tom Allon, Vasthi Acosta, Gregory Faulkner, Dr. Angela Green, Anthony Lopez, Alan Ong, Gladys Ward, Karina Tavera; Thomas Sheppard (CEC); Geneal Chacon (Bronx), Tazin Azad (Brooklyn), Kaliris Salas-Ramirez (Manhattan), Jaclyn Tacoronte (Staten Island), and Deborah Dillingham (Queens); and employee members John Maderich of the IUOE Local 891 and Donald Nesbit of District Council 37, Local 372.

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