Amazon successfully beat back a record-high 15 proposals from activists and worker advocates at its annual shareholder meeting today, maintaining the company’s track record of winning votes despite increased enthusiasm for the proposals.
The proposals ranged widely, including one asking for reports on worker injury rates and warehouse safety and another wanting a human rights audit for Amazon’s contracts with government entities. Amazon employees (including warehouse workers) and union representatives with groups including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (which has made organizing Amazon a national priority) spoke at the meeting, condemning the company’s safety record, working conditions and government contracts.
Shareholder proposals have become an increasingly popular tool for tech workers and activists who see them as a way to force investors and companies to reckon with their concerns. Before 2019, the average number of proposals for an Amazon meeting hovered between three and four; since then, the number has jumped above 10 and stayed there. Other major tech companies like Microsoft, Alphabet and Meta have experienced a similar pattern.
The proposals at various tech companies have also achieved more success in the last year than ever in tech industry history; Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are among the companies that have agreed to conduct civil rights or human rights audits of their services in response to shareholder pressure.
“At Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, there are record numbers of proposals. The number of proposals this year at each one of them is just off the charts,” Michael Connor, the director of the corporate accountability advocacy group Open Mic, told Protocol.
“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,” he said. “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.”