Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, the country’s two leading proxy voting advisors, have recommended that shareholders of FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX) vote for a shareholder proposal sponsored by Clean Yield Asset Management and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters before the company’s upcoming shareholder meeting on September 26. The proposal (appended below) calls on the company to produce an annual report on the company’s direct and indirect lobbying activities.
In 2015, the proposal, and a companion proposal calling for greater transparency concerning political spending, drew strong support from shareholders.
“FedEx is one of the biggest lobbying presences inside the Beltway and state capitals, yet its current disclosures are incomplete and opaque,” said Shelley Alpern, Director of Social Research & Advocacy at Clean Yield Asset Management. “FedEx does not disclose its expenditures to trade associations — like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – that are used for political purposes, or the extent of its payments to the American Legislative Exchange Council, whose anti-worker and anti-environment agenda does not deserve FedEx’s support.”
In the last ten years, FedEx has spent $128.55 million on lobbying; this year alone, the figure was $3 million as of the last reporting period. FedEx is the 20th largest lobbyist among the more than 3,000 organizations tracked by OpenSecrets.org.*
FedEx is a board member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest lobbying group. Since 1998 the Chamber spent more than $1.2 billion on lobbying and $85 million in 2015 alone, making it the country’s most active lobbying group. The controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which promotes model laws on a wide range of issues, leads efforts to gut workplace safety & health laws, block renewable energy regulations, erode rights and standards for public employees, protect worker misclassification schemes, and oppose socially conscious targeted investments. Over 100 companies, including Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Kraft Heinz, McDonald’s, BP, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon and Walmart have pulled their membership from ALEC.
“We expect and demand more transparency and clarity from companies operating at this level of influence and access,” Alpern said.
Clean Yield Asset Management and the Teamsters urged support for the proposal in a September 13, 2016 communication to shareholders.
*Center for Responsive Politics (http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000089&cycle=2016).
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Clean Yield Asset Management is a registered investment manager based in Norwich, Vermont. Clean Yield focuses exclusively on socially responsible asset management, offering clients customized equity and balanced portfolios and the opportunity to invest in high social impact vehicles.
Tags: corporate lobbying, FedEx, Lobbying, shareholder advocacy, Teamsters