AFSCME Employees Pension Plan, Washington, filed 21 shareholder proposals for the 2012 proxy season focusing on splitting CEO and chairman positions, scheduling annual director elections and increasing disclosure about corporate lobbying expenditures and aggressive corporate tax strategies.
“The model of the imperial CEO who also serves as board chair has proven to be a failed experiment,” union President Gerald W. McEntee said in a news release Tuesday. “Our independent chair proposals are designed to make these boards unbeholden to an all-powerful CEO and chair and more accountable to their owners, the shareholders.” The AFSCME plan filed proposals seeking independent chairs at American Express, Anadarko Petroleum, Goldman Sachs, Janus Capital, Johnson & Johnson, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lockheed Martin and Northern Trust.
Amy Borrus, deputy director of the Council of Institutional Investors, said in a telephone interview that her group supports the push for independent chairs whenever possible. “The council believes strongly that an independent chair is the best way to go.”
Lisa Lindsley, director of capital strategies for the union and its $850 million AFSCME plan, said in a telephone interview that the 1.6 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is “usually one of the most active” shareholder advocates, and will have a strong presence at shareholder meetings this spring, including Goldman Sachs, Janus Capital, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Northern Trust.