Thomas DiNapoli, New York state comptroller and sole trustee of the $186 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, said Friday that Macy's Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. had agreed to the pension fund's request that they monitor overseas apparel suppliers and contractors.
In return, the pension fund has withdrawn shareholder resolutions at the companies' annual meetings. The companies haven't set annual meeting dates, but usually hold them in May.
“Human rights and workplace safety should not stop at the U.S. border,” Mr. DiNapoli said in a news release. “These companies have appropriately agreed to report how they monitor and address business practices that give rise to child labor, sweatshop conditions and the denial of labor rights.”
The pension fund currently owns 670,400 shares of Macy's worth $22.3 million, and 1.345 million shares of Ross Stores valued at $92.2 million.
Mr. DiNapoli had asked each company to report what they are doing or planning to do “to monitor the use of subcontractors by their overseas apparel suppliers,” the news release said. “The reports include company policy of those subcontractors; the applicability of company codes of conduct to apparel suppliers and subcontractors; compliance with those codes; and procedures to deal with non-compliance.”
The news release added that the comptroller has worked with New York University's Stern Center for Business and Human Rights to convince companies to improve their worker practices. "Although many companies have adopted strict policies against unauthorized subcontracting, we must do more to ensure their policies are being upheld throughout their supply chains,” Michael Posner, director of the center, said in the news release.