27 Feb 2014 Free-Market Activists Promote Shareholder Resolution to Force Apple to be Transparent on Sustainability Relationships
Apple Pursuing Multiple Environmental Initiatives: Investors Have a Right to Know How “Green” Programs Affect Company’s Bottom Line
Questions About Apple’s Membership in Controversial Trade Association Advancing Environmentalism Concerns Ahead of Best Business Practices Remain Unanswered
Cupertino, CA / Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research is urging Apple shareholders to approve the National Center’s shareholder resolution (Proposal #9 in Apple’s proxy statement) that requests the consumer electronics company disclose its relationship with, and payments to, trade associations and business organizations promoting the amorphous concept of environmental sustainability ahead of shareholder value and fiduciary responsibilities.
“Apple’s shareholders are currently in the dark about the company’s dealings with certain trade associations that have placed a dedication to pie-in-the sky sustainability goals ahead of the best interests of the company’s stakeholders,” said Justin Danhof, Esq., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project. “That is why we urge all company shareholders to approve the National Center’s shareholder resolution, thereby bringing Apple’s relationships and sustainability programs to light.”
The annual meeting of Apple shareholders will be held this Friday (February 28) in Cupertino, California at the company’s executive offices.
Apple’s full 2014 proxy statement is available here. The National Center’s proposal, “Report on Company Membership and Involvement with Certain Trade Associations and Business Organizations,” appears on page 60.
The National Center submitted the shareholder proposal, in part, because Apple is a member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), one of the country’s largest trade organizations. RILA is calling on its member companies to undertake expensive capital expenditures, restrict the use of the property they own and lobby local governments for more restrictive, mandatory building codes that would apply to all businesses, not just RILA members.
In his seminal exposé detailing RILA’s primary agenda titled, “The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA): A Cartel that Threatens Innovation and Competitiveness,” National Center Senior Fellow Dr. Bonner Cohen explained that:
While RILA remains vague about what is meant by the “root causes of deeply embedded social and environmental challenges,” scratch beneath the surface of the high-minded sounding phrases, and the organization’s political agenda is revealed. The elevation of greenhouse-gas emissions to a place of prominence, for example, puts RILA squarely on the side of alarmists who, in the absence of any compelling data, blame human activities, i.e., the burning of fossil fuels, for climate change… While the standards and practices dictated by ‘sustainable’ trade associations do not have the force of law behind them, their effect on businesses and consumers can be as far-reaching as the most sweeping edicts from Washington regulators.
The National Center’s shareholder proposal asks Apple to disclose its membership in, and payments to, organizations such as RILA. The proposal explains that: “Some trade associations and business organizations have expanded beyond the promotion of traditional business goals and are lobbying business executives to pursue objectives with primarily social benefits. This may affect Company profitability and shareholder value. The Company’s involvement and acquiescence in these endeavors lacks transparency, and publicly-available information about the Company’s trade association memberships and related activities is minimal. An annual report to shareholders will help protect shareholder value.”
“Consider Apple’s membership in RILA with its 2013 hiring of President Obama’s former head of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson, and shareholders have every reason to question whether the company’s leadership team is more invested in creating the best and newest technological breakthrough or combating so-called climate change,” added Danhof. “The fact that Apple is opposing the National Center’s proposal speaks to the latter.”
The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is one of the leading free-market corporate activists groups in America. In 2013, Free Enterprise Project representatives attended 33 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, media bias, gun rights and many more important public policy issues. Friday’s Apple meeting will be the National Center’s third attendance at a shareholder meeting so far in 2014.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.
Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.