Workers Rights Pact Leads to Proxy Initiative Withdrawal

April 21, 2004 ( - Shareholders of ExxonMobil Corporation have worked out an agreement with the company under which they withdrew a proxy initiative promoting workplace human rights in exchange for a company promise to uphold those rights.

The shareholders decided to pull back the proposal after ExxonMobil said it would include a statement of its intent to uphold the core labor standards set forth by the ILO Declaration in its 2004 Corporate Citizenship Report as well as to continue a regular dialogue and information sharing with the proponents of the proposal, a  news release about the pact said. The shareholder coalition – including a pension fund, unions, religious groups and institutional money managers – was going to advance its proposal at the energy giant’s May 26 annual meeting.

Holding more than 7.2 million ExxonMobil shares, proponents of the shareholder proposal are:

  • the AFL-CIO
  • Amnesty International USA
  • the Teachers’ Retirement System of New York City
  • Boston Common Asset Management, on behalf of Brethren Benefit Trust
  • the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
  • the Grand Rapids Dominicans
  • the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  • Paper, Allied- Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE)
  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  • Sinsinawa Dominicans
  • Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati
  • Walden Asset Management.

While the shareholders said they welcomed ExxonMobil’s endorsement of worker and human rights, they insisted they will continue tracking the situation to make sure the principles are implemented.

“We believe a real commitment to workplace human rights benefits the company and its shareholders. Workers and their families invested their retirement savings in ExxonMobil and expect the company to live by those standards in its operations around the world,” said AFL-CIO Secretary- Treasurer Richard Trumka, in the news release.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Joe Drexler, Director of Special Projects for PACE: “While we are pleased that ExxonMobil has recognized the ILO Declaration, we will be closely monitoring the company’s practices to ensure that the human and labor rights standards are implemented globally.” PACE represents 5,000 ExxonMobil employees who are also shareholders of the company.

The ILO Declaration includes the following principles: freedom of association and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor, effective abolition of child labor, and elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.