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OCTOBER 8, 2003
9:15 AM
Suzanne Ffolkes 202-637-5018
Statement by AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney on the SEC's Proposed Rules Granting Shareholders Access to the Proxy
WASHINGTON - October 8 - Today’s vote by the Securities and Exchange Commission to propose rules granting long-term investors a voice in the selection of corporate directors is an act of genuine leadership by Chairman William Donaldson and the entire Commission. In the weeks to come the Commission must decide whether to adopt final rules that truly give responsible long-term investors timely and effective recourse when faced with self-serving CEOs and passive boards at America’s largest companies. Corporate scandals at companies like Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and HealthSouth are painful reminders that giving CEOs the power to handpick their own directors can have devastating consequences for corporations and the investors, employees and communities that depend on them. That is why earlier this year the AFL-CIO petitioned the Commission to issue new rules granting long-term investors access to the corporate proxy to nominate directors.

The rules proposed today adopt the basic principle of giving long-term investors a say in the election of directors. However, the proposed rules also contain triggering requirements that would make it difficult for even the largest investors to use them, and impossible to do so in a timely manner.

It is no surprise that CEOs are now speaking out against meaningful proxy access rules. But America’s working families have already paid too high a price as a result of executives who put their own interests ahead of those of their corporations. The labor movement looks forward to working with the Commission to craft final rules that will hold CEOs and corporate boards accountable.


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