Over the years, employees and retirees have learned that one way to get their employers to take notice of their concerns is by introducing a shareholder resolution at their company's annual meeting.
Each year, shareholder employees and retirees at companies like Verizon, IBM, General Electric and many other companies submit resolutions to be voted on by the company's shareholders. Shareholder meetings take place once year and are open to those who stock in any company that is publicly-traded. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations allow shareholders who have owned $2,000 or more in company stock for at least a year to submit governance proposals to be considered at these meetings.
Because of very strict SEC rules, shareholder resolutions can only address issues that do not concern the "everyday business" of companies. Because of this, issues regarding pensions and retiree health insurance benefits are often incorporated in resolutions relating to the governance of the company. For example, they may deal with the independence of the Board of Directors, or the amounts they are paid.
A number of grassroots activists have drafted shareholder resolutions on governance issues as a way of making sure the voices of employees and retirees are heard by a company's key executives. Because so much stock is held by employees and retirees, both directly and though their 401(k) plans, their votes on these resolutions can make a significant difference.
Those who cannot attend shareholder meetings can submit their proxy votes on specific issues by regular mail, and often also by e-mail telephone and through web sites. If you own shares through a 401(k) plan or through a brokerage or mutual fund, and do not vote, your stock will ordinarily be voted for the company and against individual shareholder resolutions.
Important 2008 Shareholder Meetings
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