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NYC comptroller asks Alphabet, CBS to end ‘exploitative’ employee practices

Google parent Alphabet Inc. is one of two companies being targeted by the New York City Retirement Systems.

Scott Stringer, the New York City comptroller, announced Friday that the $200.8 billion New York City Retirement Systems filed shareholder resolutions with CBS Corp. and Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, asking that the companies' stop requiring mandatory arbitration for employment-related claims and stop forcing employees to sign involuntary non-disclosure agreements.

"When big corporations force their workers to sign away basic rights, investors have to fight back," Mr. Stringer, the fiduciary for the five pension funds in the New York City system, said in a news release. "These fine print agreements have damaging consequences for workers, investors and the public. Mandatory arbitration and forced non-disclosure silence workers and keep misconduct in the shadows."

Mr. Stringer also said the companies should abandon making deals with other companies not to recruit each other's employees and stop forcing employees to sign non-compete agreements.

"No-poaching agreements and non-competes can suppress pay and keep employees from leaving hostile workplaces," he added. "As investors, these exploitative practices aren't just wrong on a human level, they have a wide impact on our broader economy."

The shareholder resolutions have been filed for next year's annual meetings for both companies. The resolutions represent four of the five city pension funds — public employees, teachers, board of education employees and police. The four pension funds hold about 367,800 shares of Alphabet, worth $386.2 million, and about 533,500 shares of CBS, worth $25.6 million. The pension fund representing firefighters hasn't reviewed the proposals.