Amazon shareholders approve 20:1 stock split, vote down record 15 proposals at annual meeting

(GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Faced with a barrage of proposals on issues ranging from unionization to the environment, a majority of Amazon shareholders followed the board’s lead and rejected an unprecedented slate of issues up for consideration Wednesday morning.

They also approved a 20:1 stock split, setting the stage for its implementation in early June, with the goal of making individual Amazon shares more affordable.

All nominated board members were approved by a majority of shareholders.

David Zapolsky, Amazon’s general counsel, announced the overall outcome of the votes after a series of 2-minute presentations by shareholders and their representatives, who sought to hold Amazon to account on issues including diversity and inclusion, sustainable packaging materials, and worker health and safety.

Detailed voting results are typically released by the company in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing later in the day, sometimes revealing notable trends in shareholder sentiment even when proposals are rejected by a majority of shareholders. We’ll publish those numbers when they’re available.

Amazon warehouse workers spoke in support of proposals seeking to affirm their right to unionize, and seeking the consideration of hourly workers as candidates for openings on the board.

Angelika Maldonada, a leader of the successful Amazon Labor Union in Staten Island, spoke in favor of a proposal to examine the company’s stance “on the fundamental rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining.”

“Amazon management wasted millions of dollars in anti-union consultants and it all backfired,” she said. “What a waste of time and money. Other successful companies across the world like Kroger, UPS, Kaiser, General Motors and many others make boatloads of money while respecting their workers’ rights and their freedom of association.” 

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Brad Lander, the New York City comptroller, asked shareholders to vote against board members Judith McGrath and Daniel Huttenlocher, chair and member, respectively, of the board’s Leadership Development and Compensation committee. He asserted that they “failed to provide independent oversight of human capital management on behalf of the shareholders.”

Lander made the pitch as he presented a proposal seeking to examine the impact of Amazon’s health and safety practices on racial and gender disparities in workplace injury rates.

In the company’s proxy statement, Amazon’s management detailed the company’s existing initiatives across a range of issues raised by the shareholder proposals, and the company’s board recommended voting against each of them.

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