Freedom of Association
RESOLVED: that shareholders of Amazon Inc. (“Amazon”) urge the Board of Directors to produce a report analyzing how Amazon’s current human rights policies and practices protect the rightful application of the fundamental rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining as guaranteed by the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The report should include information on whether, and if so how, input from affected stakeholders was taken into account. The report, prepared at reasonable cost and omitting confidential or proprietary information, should be publicly disclosed on the Company’s website.
SUPPORTING STATEMENT: Freedom of association and collective bargaining are fundamental human rights protected by national and international legal standards including the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
According to the ILO Freedom of association and collective bargaining permits workers and companies “to attain beneficial and productive solutions to potentially conflictual relations between workers and employers” and promotes “peaceful, inclusive and democratic participation of representative workers’ and employers’ organizations.” These intrinsically related fundamental human rights play an important role in democratic societies. Collective bargaining entities help facilitate and enhance “the ability of their members to exercise core civil liberties.
Amazon recently enacted its Global Human Rights Principles, which states the Company’s commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. However, the company has not demonstrated how its human rights policies and practices protect workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. These rights are also guaranteed by the aforementioned instrument.
Over the past years, the Company has been subject to overwhelming negative media coverage in the U.S and internationally accusing the company of limiting these fundamental rights through anti-unionization tactics including allegations of intimidation strategies, retaliation actions and surveillance systems.
The misalignment between the Company’s public commitments and these reports represents material reputational, legal and operational risks to its shareholders. Some shareholders have themselves come under scrutiny for investing in companies that are linked to human rights abuses, making effective due diligence on the company’s human rights practices material to their investment choices.
Therefore, it is crucial for shareholders to understand how Amazon’s human rights policy and practices align with the fundamental rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Greater transparency on these issues would help address concerns about the Company’s reputation, clarify its commitment to basic human rights, and enable investors to perform their own human rights due diligence according with their fiduciary duty and protect long-term shareholder value.