At the Altria Group’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders yesterday, shareholders voted to defeat three stockholder proposals that had urged the company to take action on farm labor issues and tobacco use among the poor, according to a story by John Reid Blackwell for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The company’s board of directors had opposed the proposals.
During the meeting, Michael Crosby, a Catholic priest from Wisconsin and director of the Wisconsin Iowa Minnesota Coalition for Responsible Investment, said the company should take a stronger stand against the exploitation of undocumented migrant laborers.
The shareholder proposal he presented would have required the company to adopt a policy ensuring that its tobacco suppliers did not employ workers who had had to pay ‘recruitment fees’ to contract labor brokers to cross the US border.
Martin J. Barrington, Altria’s chairman, president and CEO, said the company opposed the use of forced or exploited labor, and that its supplier code of conduct reflected that. He said Altria had been involved in outreach and training programs for farmers to prevent exploitative practices.
Shareholders also voted down a proposal put forward by the AFL-CIO (The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) that would have required the company to publish a report on steps it has taken to address ‘green tobacco sickness’, which sometimes occurs when farm workers absorb nicotine through the skin after handling tobacco.
Altria says its contract with tobacco growers requires them to provide workers with personal protective equipment to avoid green tobacco sickness.
A third shareholder proposal was put forward by CHE Trinity Health, a Catholic health care organization, asking the company to prepare educational and tobacco-cessation materials for smokers who ‘live below the poverty line or have little formal education’. That proposal was defeated, too.
Following the meeting, Altria’s board of directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.52 per share, payable on July 10 to shareholders of record as of June 15. The ex-dividend date is June 11.
Blackwell’s story is at: http://www.richmond.com/business/local/article_3694c4aa-513c-5bd2-9e65-c07c12df5914.html.
Altria’s meeting press note is at: http://www.altria.com/Media/Press-Releases/Pages/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?reqID=2051871.