The heat is on at Amazon.
The e-commerce giant is expected to take flak from shareholders and critics – including several New York politicians – over worker safety issues, anti-union tactics and CEO Andy Jassy’s $ 214 million pay package at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
New York City Comptroller Brad Lander will speak at the meeting, taking the company to task over the high rate of worker injuries at its warehouses, Lander’s office told The Post.
Lander and concerned shareholders including Norway’s $ 1.2 trillion fund Norges Bank are pushing a resolution that would call on Amazon to report injury rates for all warehouse workers, broken down by race, gender and ethnicity.
“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, ”said Lander, who oversees public consultations for the NYPD, FDNY and teachers.
In addition, Lander and New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli are urging shareholders to oust two Amazon directors, Judith McGrath and Daniel Huttenlocher, over Amazon’s labor practices and Jassy’s compensation.
City investigators gripe that Amazon has ducked their concerns about health and safety practices for years.
“They didn’t respond to us,” a source close to the pension funds said. “Instead, we received a response from management with their familiar refrain: ‘While our directors do meet with shareholders, we cannot honor all such requests.'”
The proposals are considered long shots since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos controls 12.7% of the votes – and many shareholders typically take cues from company management, which has come out against every shareholder resolution this year. The company argues that it spends heavily on worker safety and that it doesn’t interfere with workers’ right to organize.
However, shareholder resolutions can still put pressure on Amazon. After a proposal for a racial equity audit nearly passed last year with more than 44% of votes, Amazon subsequently hired former Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch to commission a report on the issue.
Lander and DiNapoli aren’t the only New Yorkers who are thorns in Amazon’s side.
Labor leader Chris Smalls, who successfully led the effort to unionize 8,300 Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island last month, is pushing a shareholder resolution that would require Amazon to commission a report on the steps it takes to protect workers’ “freedom of association.”
The resolution, which is also supported by Norges Bank, says Amazon has been “subject to overwhelming negative media coverage” of “anti-unionization tactics including allegations of intimidation strategies, retaliation actions and surveillance systems.”
Two influential investor advisors, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, have endorsed both the freedom of association and worker injury proposals, the Financial Times reported.
Both Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services have pushed back against Jassy’s compensation package ahead of the meeting, which is the first headed by the CEO since Bezos left the company last year. Institutional Shareholder Services called Jassy’s $ 214 million package “excessive” and argued that it “lacks any connection to objective, pre-set performance criteria,” according to the Financial Times.
An Amazon spokesperson argued that the $ 214 million figure is reasonable because it represents Jassy’s stock grants that will vest over 10 years.
“What this equates to from an annual compensation perspective is competitive with that of CEOs at other large companies and was approved by the Amazon Board of Directors,” a spokesperson said.
The shareholder efforts follow several other high profile-conflicts between the Empire State and Amazon.
On May 18, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the New York Division of Human Rights filed a complaint against Amazon, alleging the company engages in discrimination against pregnant workers and workers with disabilities by denying them reasonable accommodations.
And most famously, Bezos scrapped plans in 2019 for the company’s HQ2 in Queens after local leaders questioned Amazon’s tax break-laden deal.