Five New York City pension funds won agreements from Best Buy Co., Fluor Corp., General Mills Inc. and VF Corp. "to improve their policies to ensure that their overseas suppliers respect workers' human rights" in accord with shareholder proposals introduced by the funds, according to William C. Thompson Jr., New York City comptroller. As a result, the funds agreed to withdraw their shareholder proposals at the four companies.
"We commend them for taking a responsible approach to their business operations and demonstrating that they are accountable to their shareholders," Mr. Thompson said in a statement.
Fluor "recently undertook an overall enhancement of its compliance and ethics program," company officials said in a statement. The company agreed to review "the adequacy and effectiveness of our code of business conduct and ethics" and "to address the basic tenets embodied in the International Labor Organization conventions on workplace human rights, as well as the United Nations' Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations with Regard to Human Rights, as set forth in your proposal," the statement said.
Susan Busch, Best Buy spokeswoman, said she couldn't respond until she had more information. General Mills and VF representatives couldn't be reached.
Shareholder proposals were filed on behalf of New York City's $33 billion Employees' Retirement System, $26.7 billion Teachers' Retirement System, $15.6 billion Police Pension Fund, $5.2 billion Fire Department Pension Fund and $1.7 billion Board of Education Retirement System.
Mr. Thompson plans to ask the funds to reintroduce workplace rights shareholder resolutions at Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., Cooper Industries Ltd., C.R. Bard Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Dillard's Inc., Hasbro Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corp., Primus Telecommunications Group Inc. and TJX Cos. Resolutions in the past proxy season at these companies received enough votes to satisfy the required vote threshold for resubmission, the statement said.
Since 2000, when the funds began submitting shareholder resolutions on the subject, they have reached agreements with a total of 17 companies, the statement said.