December 8, 2019

McDonald’s Told: Stop Bowing to Liberal Pressure Groups!

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

National Center for Public Policy Research Shareholder Proposal Questions Fast Food Giant’s Strategy of Caving to Leftist Demands to the Potential Neglect of Company Investors
Oak Brook, IL / Washington, D.C.  – At today’s annual meeting of McDonald’s shareholders held in Oak Brook, Illinois, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research presented a shareholder resolution urging the fast food giant to alter its strategy of catering to leftist activists on wage and other economic issues.

“In recent years, McDonald’s has shown a tendency to cave to left-wing pressure campaigns. From waffling on minimum wage issues to deciding which organizations to belong to, McDonald’s has a pattern of appeasing the leftist mob,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “Doing so is not only detrimental to the company’s investors, it is also a poor strategy if McDonald’s is simply trying to make the liberal activists go away. Corporations that cave to the left only place a bigger target on their backs – which was borne out at today’s meeting. Last year, McDonald’s made concessions to the leftist mob and increased the minimum wage for many of its employees. Throughout the year and outside of today’s meeting, liberal protestors demanded still higher wages.”

At the meeting, Danhof explained that:

At last year’s shareholder meeting, the company crowed about artificially increasing the minimum wage for some of its workers. Well the barbarians are back at your gate demanding more – they did not see your concession as a victory for workers – they saw it as a sign of weakness which they can exploit. With less economic understanding than the Socialist Senator from Vermont, they demand wage increases that would shutter most McDonald’s locations. You should be screaming this from the rooftops, not relying on pro-free enterprise groups to do it for you.

But there’s the rub because when radical liberal activists spread lies about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a well-regarded 40-year-old organization that McDonald’s joined because it works to reduce our taxes and to ease the regulatory burden upon our operations, McDonald’s was one of the first organizations in the country to cave in and withdraw its membership.

The full text of Danhof’s remarks at the McDonald’s meeting, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.

Danhof also presented a resolution at last year’s McDonald’s shareholder meeting.

Danhof presented today’s and 2015’s resolution on behalf of National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour, a McDonald’s shareholder.

The full text of Ridenour’s 2016 proposal, and McDonald’s reply, can be found on pages 58-59 of the company’s proxy statement, which is available here. The final vote count is not yet available.

“Continuing to prove the main emphasis of our proposal, earlier this month McDonald’s ended a nutritional education program after repeated complaints from activists,” noted Danhof. “Just last year, McDonald’s management vigorously defended these programs when pressured at the shareholder meeting. But once again, the activists have won and McDonald’s shareholders are left to wonder how these repeated concessions to liberal agitators are eating into their investments.”

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. Today’s McDonald’s meeting marks its fifteenth shareholder meeting of 2016.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.

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Starbucks Shareholders Asked to Support Employee Protections

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Starbucks Investors Vote on Employee Protection Shareholder Proposal

Human Rights Proposal Intended to Protect Company Workers Who Engage in Political and Civic Activities, Among Other Human Rights Concerns

 

Seattle, WA / Washington, D.C.  – At today’s annual meeting of Starbucks shareholders in Seattle, Washington, Justin Danhof, Esq., representing the National Center for Public Policy Research presented a stockholder resolution designed in part to protect the coffee company’s workers from potential discrimination stemming from their private, legal political activities.

“Today, we made an important step in ensuring that all Starbucks employees are free to engage in political and civic activities without fear of retribution in the workplace,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof. “Many regions with Starbucks employees lack legal protection for a worker that is terminated for his political activities. Rather than seeking a government solution to the problem, we hope that Starbucks’ leadership will voluntarily address this issue. That is why we filed our resolution.”

The effort is part of the National Center’s Employee Conscience Protection Project, which, among other activities promoting human rights, has so far convinced 13 major corporations employing over 5 million workers to agree not to penalize or fire employees based on their legal political or civic activities undertaken in their free time.

Although Starbucks’ management has so far declined to adopt the National Center’s initiative, other corporations, including Walmart, GE, Pfizer, Merck, Visa, PepsiCo, Home Depot and other major companies have adopted the protections after being approached by the National Center.

In presenting the proposal, Danhof stated:

Free speech and free association are under increasing attack. Some politicians want to regulate speech by broadcast journalists. Colleges are erecting “free speech zones” that – despite the name – limit speech, and now this trend has entered the corporate arena.

It’s not hard to envision a scenario in which a conservative or libertarian Starbucks employee feels ostracized to the point of reducing her or his political and civic activity. The company has a reputation of being left-leaning. CEO Howard Schultz is a prominent liberal who many on the left hope will run for president. If a conservative employee’s direct superior is also politically left-leaning, she or he might feel compelled to squash her or his political activities. Now, to be clear, the current culture is predominately anti-conservative, but our proposal would also protect liberal employees from potential discrimination.

The National Center’s proposal is on page 55 of Starbucks’ proxy statement, which is available for download here.

At press time, the final vote tally on the proposal was unavailable.

“I am delighted that our proposal was brought to the attention of many thousands of Starbucks investors and the business press,” added Danhof. “I look forward to having a continued dialogue with Starbucks management as we work to address this important issue.”

Danhof is available for comments about the shareholder meeting.

Yesterday, the National Center issued a press release announcing the proposal. It is available here.

The genesis for the National Center’s Employee Conscience Protection Project occurred in April 2014 when the CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, was forced out of his job simply because he had donated to a 2008 California referendum that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Unfortunately, Mr. Eich is not uniquely situated. Only about half of American workers live in a jurisdiction that provides statutory protection against employer retaliation for engaging in First Amendment activities. And some of these laws are weaker than others. Furthermore, many corporations do not offer this protection as a condition of employment.

Announced just a year ago, the National Center’s Employee Conscience Protection Project has already protected more than five million American workers from potential political discrimination. The project has also received significant media attention, including coverage by the San Francisco Chronicle, Politico and the Daily Caller. Danhof also appeared multiple times as a featured guest on One America News Network’s “The Rick Amato Show” to discuss various aspects of the project (here and here).

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. Tomorrow’s Starbucks meeting marks its fourth shareholder meeting of 2016.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.

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Disney Shareholders Asked to Vote Against Liberal Proposal Today

Walt Disney Investors Asked to Reject Liberal Resolution Targeting Corporate Involvement with Groups that Support Free Enterprise and Private Job Creation

National Center for Public Policy Research Calls for Investors to Vote Against Zevin Asset Management Proposal Resolution Attacking the National Restaurant Association at Shareholder Meeting Today

 

Chicago, IL / Washington, D.C.  – In advance of today’s annual meeting of Walt Disney shareholders scheduled to take place at Roosevelt University in Chicago, the National Center for Public Policy Research is urging the entertainment giant’s stockholders to reject a shareholder proposal from Zevin Asset Management that attacks Disney’s engagement with free enterprise organizations such as the National Restaurant Association.

“Calling themselves ‘Pioneers in Socially Responsible Investing,’ Zevin Asset Management is just another in a long line of far-left activist groups that attack the free enterprise system whenever they get a chance. Zevin’s proposal to Disney’s shareholders is just one more strike against the most prosperous economic system the world has ever known,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “Specifically targeting the National Restaurant Association for its efforts in advancing free-market reforms, Zevin is seeking to use Disney’s shareholders to silence conservative speech. We urge all Disney shareholders to reject Zevin’s proposal.”

The Zevin Asset Management proposal titled “Lobbying Disclosure” ostensibly seeks to have Disney create a report regarding its membership in trade associations and other organizations that may have policy or political influence. (Zevin’s full proposal, and Disney’s response to it, is on pages 64-65 of the company’s proxy statement and available for download here.)

“We don’t believe Zevin wants corporate transparency. We believe it wants an enemies list. The left has unfairly harmed the reputations of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Chamber of Commerce and Charles and David Koch. Now Zevin is attacking the half-million food service companies associated with the National Restaurant Association,” said Danhof. “Is your local restaurant owner a bad guy or is he a hardworking small businessman who creates jobs and services in your community? The left says he’s a bad guy. We like the jobs he creates.”

While on its face the Zevin proposal may seem to be a basic call for corporate transparency, on its website the activist group makes clear that it is targeting Disney for its membership in the National Restaurant Association. The Zevin website states:

Disney’s membership in the National Restaurant Association, known for its staunch opposition to raising the minimum wage for tipped workers, helped bring our attention to their [sic] lobbying practices. No doubt Disney’s membership dues to the association known (for their [sic] lobbying muscle) as “the other NRA” go to lobbying against fair pay and working conditions — but wouldn’t it be nice to know?

“This is an outrageous claim,” said Danhof. “The National Restaurant Association works to create an economic environment that grows jobs and increases prosperity for millions of Americans. What evidence does Zevin have that the National Restaurant Association is out to harm workers and ensure they have bad working conditions? This is an unfair accusation. The National Restaurant Association works to create more profits and thus more lucrative jobs in the restaurant industry.”

“Zevin Asset Management is continuing the fear-mongering campaign of other liberal extremists groups. Liberal activist groups such as Common Cause, NorthStar Asset Management and the Democracy Alliance have pressured corporations to end affiliations with free enterprise organizations and conservatives. Zevin and its allies submit shareholder proposals supposedly seeking increased corporate transparency, but what they really do is silence and defund the free enterprise movement,” added Danhof.

“Zevin’s tactics are nothing new. Left-wing activists have used nearly identical proposals to attack the American Legislative Exchange Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Far too often, corporate executives and board members have bent to the will of these radicals,” noted Danhof. “Whether for personal political reasons, or some perceived short-term gain, corporate America has been trending to the left in recent years and abandoning free enterprise principles. Shareholders can – and should – play an important role in reversing this ugly trend. That is why we are calling on all Disney shareholders to affirm the free enterprise model by rejecting Zevin’s proposal.”

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. Today’s Disney meeting marks its third shareholder meeting of 2016.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.

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Apple Pursuing Multiple Environmental Initiatives: Investors Have a Right to Know How “Green” Programs Affect Company’s Bottom Line

Free-Market Activists Promote Shareholder Resolution to Force Apple to be Transparent on Sustainability Relationships

Questions About Apple’s Membership in Controversial Trade Association Advancing Environmentalism Concerns Ahead of Best Business Practices Remain Unanswered

Cupertino, CA / Washington DC – The National Center for Public Policy Research is urging Apple shareholders to approve the National Center’s shareholder resolution (Proposal #9 in Apple’s proxy statement) that requests the consumer electronics company disclose its relationship with, and payments to, trade associations and business organizations promoting the amorphous concept of environmental sustainability ahead of shareholder value and fiduciary responsibilities.

“Apple’s shareholders are currently in the dark about the company’s dealings with certain trade associations that have placed a dedication to pie-in-the sky sustainability goals ahead of the best interests of the company’s stakeholders,” said Justin Danhof, Esq., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project. “That is why we urge all company shareholders to approve the National Center’s shareholder resolution, thereby bringing Apple’s relationships and sustainability programs to light.”

The annual meeting of Apple shareholders will be held this Friday (February 28) in Cupertino, California at the company’s executive offices.

Apple’s full 2014 proxy statement is available here. The National Center’s proposal, “Report on Company Membership and Involvement with Certain Trade Associations and Business Organizations,” appears on page 60.

The National Center submitted the shareholder proposal, in part, because Apple is a member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), one of the country’s largest trade organizations. RILA is calling on its member companies to undertake expensive capital expenditures, restrict the use of the property they own and lobby local governments for more restrictive, mandatory building codes that would apply to all businesses, not just RILA members.

In his seminal expose detailing RILA’s primary agenda titled, “The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA): A Cartel that Threatens Innovation and Competitiveness,” National Center Senior Fellow Dr. Bonner Cohen explained that:

While RILA remains vague about what is meant by the “root causes of deeply embedded social and environmental challenges,” scratch beneath the surface of the high-minded sounding phrases, and the organization’s political agenda is revealed. The elevation of greenhouse-gas emissions to a place of prominence, for example, puts RILA squarely on the side of alarmists who, in the absence of any compelling data, blame human activities, i.e., the burning of fossil fuels, for climate change… While the standards and practices dictated by ‘sustainable’ trade associations do not have the force of law behind them, their effect on businesses and consumers can be as far-reaching as the most sweeping edicts from Washington regulators.

The National Center’s shareholder proposal asks Apple to disclose its membership in, and payments to, organizations such as RILA. The proposal explains that: “Some trade associations and business organizations have expanded beyond the promotion of traditional business goals and are lobbying business executives to pursue objectives with primarily social benefits. This may affect Company profitability and shareholder value. The Company’s involvement and acquiescence in these endeavors lacks transparency, and publicly-available information about the Company’s trade association memberships and related activities is minimal. An annual report to shareholders will help protect shareholder value.”

“Considering Apple’s membership in RILA with its 2013 hiring of President Obama’s former head of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson and, shareholders have every reason to question whether the company’s leadership team is more invested in creating the best and newest technological breakthrough or combating so-called climate change,” added Danhof. “The fact that Apple is opposing the National Center’s proposal speaks to the latter.”

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is one of the leading free-market corporate activists groups in America. In 2013, Free Enterprise Project representatives attended 33 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, media bias, gun rights and many more important public policy issues. Friday’s Apple meeting will be the National Center’s third attendance at a shareholder meeting so far in 2014.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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