Press Release Feed Press Releases Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Obama Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:09:06 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Obama administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order:

"AFSCME applauds the Obama administration's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order and fully supports the regulations required to implement it. Requiring companies seeking to obtain federal contracts to disclose prior wage, civil rights and safety violations is a win-win for taxpayers and workers who too often are denied the wages they are owed and are injured or even killed on the job. Taxpayers deserve to know that the federal government is putting in place mechanisms that improve contract performance and fairness.

"These new regulations promote much-needed transparency and help ensure that employees, including thousands of hardworking AFSCME members who deliver vital public services, receive the protection against wage theft, discrimination and workplace hazards they deserve. AFSCME opposes the ongoing efforts of right-wing members of Congress to block these much-needed common sense regulations. Companies who play by the rules and comply with the law have nothing to fear from these regulations. Indeed, they should stand with us as we build an economy that is fair for all. These regulations are both smart and the right thing to do."

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Justice Department Ending Use of Private Prisons Thu, 18 Aug 2016 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to end their use of private prisons:

“Whether at the federal or state and local level, private prison operations have long been a stain on our nation’s criminal justice system. Compared to publically run correctional facilities, private prisons provide a fraction of the safety and rehabilitation our communities should expect. They have not kept us secure, nor have they delivered savings to the taxpayers – instead, corporate prisons have profited off of the suffering of our communities and have led the way to mass incarceration and the immoral detention of immigrant families in privately operated facilities that just this week were revealed in reports to be wasting taxpayer money.

“Today’s announcement reinforces what we have long asserted: The dedicated women and men working in our nation’s federal, state and local public prisons keep our communities safe, day in and day out, and they do it more cost effectively than at prisons operated for profit by private corporations. Private prisons are a failed experiment. We whole-heartedly applaud the Justice Department’s decision to end their use and call on state and local governments, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, to follow the federal government’s lead on this decision.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Hillary Clinton’s Selection of Tim Kaine for VP Fri, 22 Jul 2016 22:12:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as her running mate:

“If you need further proof of what sets Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump apart in this election, look no further than their choice of running mates. While Mike Pence is an extremist who gave Indiana’s skilled workers a pay cut and attacked the retirement security of nurses, teachers and firefighters, Tim Kaine has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with working people on the issues that affect our families.

“As Governor, Tim Kaine supported working people by creating good jobs through critical infrastructure investments. Like Secretary Clinton, Senator Kaine also stands with public service workers on critical issues facing our families and communities such as protecting Social Security, raising the minimum wage, easing the burden of student loan debt, and closing corporate tax loopholes and making the wealthiest pay their fair share.

“Hillary Clinton’s choice of a running mate is just more proof for working people that she has our backs, and she will be the champion our families need in the White House.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders Wins Reelection by Acclamation Tue, 19 Jul 2016 15:59:00 -0500 Today, member delegates attending the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 42nd International Convention reelected Lee Saunders as International President by acclamation. First elected to AFSCME’s top position in 2012, Saunders will serve another four-year term.

Saunders has presided over a period of unity, innovation and growth, despite unprecedented attacks on public service workers and the unions that represent them. In his first years as president, Saunders fostered a culture shift at AFSCME, returning AFSCME to its organizing roots. A new program, AFSCME Strong, has reinvigorated the union, making it a more effective advocate for public service workers and all working people.

“America’s public service workers never quit on their communities,” Saunders said. “They are up before sunrise to make sure buses, roads and bridges are safe for children going to school. They are still at work at midnight, staffing hospitals and responding to 911 emergencies. They do their jobs with passion and pride. They deserve good wages and benefits, professional development and retirement security, and most of all, recognition and respect.”

With a renewed focus on organizing, AFSCME has added new members, trained thousands of new activists and strengthened the bond between members and their union. Since 2013, nearly 340,000 fee-payers and nonmembers have signed up with AFSCME, including nearly 63,000 new members in so-called “right-to-work” states like Iowa, Florida and Texas. The union’s voluntary political action committee, PEOPLE, has broken records, both in terms of dollars raised and the number of members contributing.

“I am honored by the confidence AFSCME members have placed in me, and I look forward to building on the success of the last four years. I only hope to do as great a job leading this union over the next four years as AFSCME members do everyday to make their communities better places to live.”

Hillary Clinton Addresses AFSCME Convention Tue, 19 Jul 2016 15:52:00 -0500 Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton rallied public service workers from around the country at the 42nd Bi-Annual International Member Convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) on Tuesday, July 19.

Sec. Clinton addressed the 6,000 delegates and guests to AFSCME’s convention on topics including her plans to rebuild an economy that works for all Americans, not just those at the top. She pointed out Donald Trump’s dangerous record of exploiting workers, and highlighted the clear choice facing working families in this election. Sec. Clinton stands with AFSCME members on the issues that affect their everyday lives and their communities, such as improving the incomes of ordinary Americans, along with equal pay, retirement security and the right to organize together in strong unions.

“I will be by your side in this fight every step of the way. If I have the honor of serving you as President, working people will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House,” said Sec. Clinton. “I believe that when unions are strong, America is strong.”

“And we all need to do more to support all our public servants,” added Clinton. “These are jobs that provide dignity and a sense of purpose. Jobs that are about giving back and making our communities stronger.”

AFSCME was proud to back Sec. Clinton in October of 2015 after an exhaustive endorsement process found nearly two-thirds of our membership supported her for president. AFSCME members are on the front lines, making our communities safer, healthier and stronger every day. Just as we never quit answering the call for our neighborhoods, public service workers will never quit working to elect a president who shares our passion for public service.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Shooting of Police Officers in Baton Rouge Sun, 17 Jul 2016 06:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement about this morning’s shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge:

“All of AFSCME is devastated by the news out of Baton Rouge this morning. Across the country every single day, millions of police officers do a dangerous job with honor and professionalism. We send our deepest condolences to the families of the fallen and pray for a full recovery for the wounded.

“This has been a difficult month for the Baton Rouge community, for our nation and the world. It has never been more important for all of us to stand united against violence, embrace our common humanity, and summon our better angels.”

Labor Leaders Win Strong Fair-Trade Platform Language Sat, 09 Jul 2016 13:52:00 -0500 American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Lee Saunders and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers President Bob Martinez on the Democratic Party platform committee’s adoption of the Saunders amendment on fair trade:

“The Democratic Party made history today on the crucial issue of fair trade. We adopted language in our platform that declares our support for working families by setting the highest possible standards for worker and environmental protections and significantly strengthening enforcement and accountability tools.

“We are proud to oppose trade agreements that do not support good American jobs, raise wages and improve our national security.

“This amendment is a clear statement of where we stand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and all other trade deals, past and future: We stand with American workers and against bad trade deals.

“Even in a tense negotiating environment, our bold statement in support of fair trade standards for working people passed overwhelmingly, by a count of 117 to 64.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Shooting Deaths of Police Officers in Dallas Fri, 08 Jul 2016 10:43:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the shooting deaths of police officers in Dallas:

“The 1.6 million members of AFSCME are devastated by the assassination of five Dallas police officers and the wounding of seven others. Millions of law enforcement officers go to work each day to protect their communities, unsure whether they will come home at night. For five brave souls, that concern proved all too real.

“For law enforcement officers in Dallas and across America, the risk and worry no doubt feels heavier today. We owe them and their loved ones our prayers, our love and our gratitude. There is no excuse for this violence. None.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on the Shooting Deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Thu, 07 Jul 2016 20:04:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile:

“As a union that represents public service workers, including law enforcement officers, and is steeped in the history of civil rights, AFSCME has a unique perspective of the crisis roiling this country. And make no mistake: This is a crisis. Denying it is not an option.

“We must end the unacceptable violence that cut short the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, while honoring the millions of officers who do a dangerous job each day with dignity and respect for all. We are better than this.”

AFSCME Members Welcome Secretary Hillary Clinton at 42nd International Convention Tue, 05 Jul 2016 17:56:00 -0500 The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will be joined by presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Secretary Hillary Clinton, at their 42nd International Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday, July 19.

AFSCME proudly supports Secretary Clinton, as she stands with AFSCME members on the issues that affect our communities, such as equal pay, retirement security and strong unions, and we are united in our commitment to put a champion for working people in the White House. Public service workers played a key role in the grassroots efforts that helped Hillary Clinton secure the nomination and will work to elect her president in November.

Media interested in covering this event should RSVP here.

Secretary Hillary Clinton at AFSCME 42nd International Convention
When: 11:30 AM PST, Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Where: Las Vegas Convention Center, 3150 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89109

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Supreme Court Denial of Certiorari in Home Care Association of America v. Weil Mon, 27 Jun 2016 13:05:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to deny certiorari in Home Care Association of America v. Weil: 

“We are very pleased that the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Home Care Association of America v. Weil stands. That decision upholds the Department of Labor’s rule applying Fair Labor Standards Act protections to the more than 2 million home care workers throughout the nation. These home care workers offer essential services to the elderly and disabled, and now they can finally receive the wages and overtime pay they deserve. This will enable them to focus on providing quality services so those who are in need of care can remain at home and live with dignity.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in United States vs. Texas. Thu, 23 Jun 2016 17:12:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on today’s 4-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States vs. Texas.

“Because of a politically motivated legal effort to challenge the President’s constitutional authority, civil rights and economic justice remain out of reach for millions of families who live in constant fear of being torn apart. Meanwhile, the exploitation of workers in the shadow economy continues to drive down wages and benefits for all working people.

“The political agenda that challenged the President’s authority in DAPA and DACA expansion is the same as the agenda preventing the Court from operating at full capacity. Americans expect the U.S. Supreme Court to function fully and exist above politics in order to protect the Constitution. That is why members of the United States Senate who have been shirking their constitutional obligations to the country should finally do their job and give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing and an up or down vote. After a ninth justice is finally confirmed, we urge the Department of Justice to seek a rehearing in this case.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on the 2016 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report Wed, 22 Jun 2016 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the 2016 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report:

“The report released today underscores the vital importance of preserving, protecting and expanding Social Security and Medicare. In an out-of-balance economy that increasingly favors a handful of the wealthy few, and with half of Americans without access to pensions, Social Security and Medicare are increasingly necessary to keep tens of millions of Americans out of poverty when they leave the workforce. Americans who work their entire lives and pay into Social Security and Medicare deserve to have access to the benefits when they retire, and Congress should, and can, strengthen the financial solvency of these programs for future retirement, disability and survivor beneficiaries – but not by shifting costs on to beneficiaries.”

National Unions Coordinate Support for Orlando Community Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:13:00 -0500 Leaders of the American Federation of Teachers, the Florida Education Association, the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees released the following statements today on their coordinated efforts to provide support and resources to the Orlando community in the wake of Sunday’s horrific shooting. The unions have joined forces to offer counseling to members and their families who have been affected, assemble resources for parents and teachers to help children understand the news, and point supporters toward blood donation and targeted fundraising efforts.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “AFT members, including teachers, school staff, social workers and nurses, are on the front lines when our communities are traumatized by violence. We are committed to supporting our members; our students, patients and their families; and communities in Florida and around the country, as we grapple with this horrible act of hatred. We’re working with our state affiliate, the Florida Education Association, along with the NEA, SEIU and AFSCME, to coordinate support and resources for the Orlando community and for educators nationwide during this time of crisis. It is clear that this was an act of hatred perpetrated against the LGBT community. We will work not just to support one another, but to educate and foster acceptance and love so we can prevent hate-based crimes through understanding. Let us all find the moral courage to use this tragedy to build bridges and open our hearts, not to build walls and further hatred.”

Visit the AFT’s to find resources for talking to kids about the Orlando attack.

FEA President Joanne McCall, who is an AFT vice president, said, “Our hearts go out to the victims of another senseless mass shooting. We send our prayers to the victims and their families and friends and for the entire community of Orlando. We pray for an end to these all-too-familiar acts of violence. As educators, we know that violence has no place in our society.”

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “Orlando, we are holding you in love. In a thousand ways, we will turn our powerful love into powerful actions and stand against the hate that was unleashed against you. Educators join Americans across this country in embracing you with prayers and support. Even in the face of such hatred and violence we will never lose hope that love conquers hate.”

Visit ‪‬‬‬‬ to find resources and opportunities to support the victims of the Orlando attack.    ‬

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said, “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in labor and in the progressive community to help communities across this country heal and recover. Together, we demand that our nation does everything to ensure that no more families have to feel this pain, sadness and loss ever again. It’s long past time for our nation to do something about gun violence in our communities. SEIU renews the commitment of our 2 million members to use every ounce of our energy to unite and fight to end this senseless gun violence and build a better future for all families.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said, “Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the mass shooting in Orlando, the largest atrocity of this kind in U.S. history. We thank the first responders on the scene and those around the country who never quit on their communities, especially when the unthinkable happens.

“Public service workers are steadfast in our commitment to confront the bigotry behind this attack on the LGBT community. We renew our promise to defeat this kind of hatred with the compassion we bring to our jobs every day.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders: “Now Is The Time To Unite For Working Families” Tue, 07 Jun 2016 21:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders congratulated Sec. Hillary Clinton on becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee for president and called for unity in electing a champion for working families this November:

“I am pleased to join hundreds of thousands of nurses, first responders and other public service workers in congratulating Secretary Hillary Clinton on becoming the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party.

“Throughout this campaign, Secretary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders have made the concerns of working families their top priority. After months of passionate debate, voters have chosen Secretary Clinton. Now is the time to unite for working families.

“The choice between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump could not be clearer. Trump is a dangerous and unstable demagogue who thinks American wages are too high and has called for gutting workers’ rights. Public service workers are ready to hit the streets to make sure he gets nowhere near the White House.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Speaker Ryan’s Anti-Poverty Plan Tue, 07 Jun 2016 12:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s anti-poverty plan, “A Better Way”:

“Speaker Ryan’s plan to reduce poverty drastically misses the mark. In an economy that is out of balance and favors the wealthy few, Speaker Ryan’s plan would in fact exacerbate poverty and inequality by slashing and severely weakening the vital social safety net a vast majority of Americans rely upon. 70 percent of Americans will turn to the social safety net in their lifetime, and programs such as Social Security, tax credits for working families and other effective investments in education and child care have kept many Americans out of poverty. But Speaker Ryan’s plan does nothing to strengthen Social Security or Medicare, and it touts the failed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant model for other safety net programs.

“This comes as no surprise. Speaker Ryan has endorsed the GOP House budget proposal that would cut $3.7 trillion from programs that support struggling American families while protecting tax cuts for a handful of wealthy and powerful interests. If Speaker Ryan and his colleagues in Congress are serious about lifting Americans out of poverty and expanding opportunity, they should support proven policies like raising the minimum wage and ensuring equal pay for women, as well as overtime pay for Americans who are not getting paid for the work they already do.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Final Obama Administration Overtime Rule Wed, 18 May 2016 10:25:53 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Obama Administration’s final Overtime Rule, which will raise the overtime salary threshold for millions of Americans to $47,476:

“Americans are now much closer to getting the hard-earned raise they deserve. Today people are working harder and putting in longer hours, yet are making less money than they were decades ago because our economy is out of balance. The Administration’s overtime rule will help to reverse this imbalance by helping to ensure that working people get paid for the work they already do.

“In an economy that only benefits the wealthy few, raising the overtime threshold will provide much needed protection for hardworking people that will not only help to restore the 40-hour work week, but also improve incomes and grow the middle class. Millions of Americans go above and beyond, working more than 40 hours a week. Congress should not stand in the way of these working people getting the hard-earned and long-overdue raise they deserve by taking any legislative action that would overturn, weaken or delay implementation of this final rule.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Sec. Hillary Clinton’s Victories in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut Tue, 26 Apr 2016 22:42:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Sec. Hillary Clinton’s victories in tonight’s primary:

“Sec. Hillary Clinton is the clear front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination now that more than eleven million voters have stepped up to vote for one of the most prepared, qualified, and resilient champions for working people in generations. Tonight, voters in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut added their voices to the broad coalition of Americans who believe Hillary Clinton is the candidate best equipped to carry working people to victory in November and make real progress on the challenges confronting our country.

“Tonight, union households in Pennsylvania supported Sec. Clinton 56% to 43% and represented 27% of total turnout. This continues a trend in key states such as New York, Iowa, Nevada and Ohio, in which rank-and-file union households backed Hillary Clinton by 16%, 9%, 11% and 10%, respectively. This election will be a make-or-break moment for working people struggling to make ends meet, and across the labor movement union members are turning out for the candidate who has proudly proclaimed, ‘when unions are strong, America is strong.’

“AFSCME members are on the front lines, making our communities safer, healthier, and stronger every day. Just as we never quit answering the call for our neighborhoods, public service workers will never quit working to elect a president who shares our passion for public service. That’s why AFSCME members played a key role in the grassroots GOTV efforts supporting Hillary Clinton, knocking on tens of thousands of doors and helping to advance Secretary Clinton closer to securing the Democratic nomination.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Sec. Hillary Clinton’s Victory in New York Tue, 19 Apr 2016 21:52:50 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Sec. Hillary Clinton’s victory in tonight’s primary:

"Working people turned out for Sec. Hillary Clinton in the New York primary tonight for the same reasons they twice elected her to represent them in the U.S. Senate: She is the most deeply qualified, and she is a fighter who will make real progress breaking down the barriers that hold our communities back. Working families need a champion in the White House who can deliver on their promises.

"Hillary Clinton’s vision and proposals will withstand the scrutiny of a general election contest. She has the most comprehensive plans to improve incomes for all Americans, including making it easier for workers to stand together and negotiate collectively, and reigning in the CEOs and corporations that manipulate the rules to their own favor. Our most basic rights are at stake in this election, and that’s why the majority of union members nationwide chose to endorse Hillary Clinton, and support her at ballot boxes and caucuses across the country.

"Nearly 400,000 public service workers across New York are members of AFSCME, and their grassroots organizing efforts were instrumental to Secretary Clinton’s victory in the state. AFSCME members joined with other working families to reach out to tens of thousands of their fellow New Yorkers about the issues facing working families in this election. As Secretary Clinton continues to expand her delegates lead and grows closer to securing the Democratic nomination, public service workers will never quit working to elect a president who shares our passion for public service."

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Applauds Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule Wed, 06 Apr 2016 15:00:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the Department of Labor issuing the Fiduciary Rule:

“The Fiduciary Rule ending conflicts of interest for retirement investment advice is long overdue. This is a very important step to protect Americans’ retirement savings against predatory practices that contribute to our nation’s retirement crisis, and cost hard working families $17 billion in losses every year. For too long, the financial industry has manipulated the rules to line its pockets by stacking the deck against working people.

“With wages lower than they have been in decades, the average working person is struggling to get by, let alone save for retirement. That is why this rule is so important: Americans who work hard, play by the rules and struggle to save responsibly for retirement should get a fair deal, not be victimized by a system that incentivizes financial advisers to act against the best financial interest of their clients.  

“We commend the Administration for its continuing work to level the playing field for working people who deserve an economy that works for them, not just the wealthy few.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Praises SCOTUS Decision in Evenwel v. Abbott Mon, 04 Apr 2016 14:11:00 -0500 AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the U.S Supreme Court decision in Evenwel v. Abbott:

“We are very pleased that the Supreme Court unanimously upheld decades of precedent safeguarding equal representation for all communities under the Constitution. This lawsuit, backed by moneyed special interests, needlessly threatened to upend more than 200 years of struggle for racial and social equality that has helped define our national character. ‘One person one vote’ is not only essential to protect the promise of our democracy, it is vital to secure funding for schools, essential services, and resources that keep our children and communities safe. AFSCME members have a long, proud history of fighting for equality, and we remain opposed to efforts that aim to further disenfranchise vulnerable communities and deprive people of equal rights under the Constitution.”

America Works Together: Response to Supreme Court Ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association Tue, 29 Mar 2016 11:01:00 -0500 “Today, the Supreme Court left standing nearly four decades of precedent and sound law that has worked for public employers and working people alike. This marks a significant defeat for the wealthy special interests who want to hijack our economy, our democracy, and even the United States Supreme Court. Millions of teachers, nurses, firefighters, and other public service workers will continue to be able to band together in a union in order to speak up for one another, improve their communities, and hold the wealthy and powerful accountable.

“The Constitution, the law, and the facts are on our side, and we remain confident that we will continue to prevail against the onslaught of baseless litigation from those focused on trying to silence working people in order to benefit themselves at the expense of the rest of us.

“Today’s decision sends a strong message to our opponents that the Supreme Court is not open to do the business of right wing organizations seeking to win through judicial decree what they have been unable to win through the democratic process. Our courts should be reserved for legal disputes, not political agendas.

“This case provides a vivid illustration of what’s at stake when it comes to the Supreme Court. That is why the same wealthy special interests who manufactured this attack on working people are also trying to prevent President Obama from fulfilling his constitutional responsibility to fill the vacancy on the Court. It’s time for conservatives to stop playing games with the Supreme Court.”

Institutional Investors Continue to Press Companies for Disclosure of Lobbying In 2016 Thu, 17 Mar 2016 12:00:00 -0500 Corporate lobbying disclosure remains a top shareholder proposal topic for 2016. At least 66 investors have filed proposals at 50 companies asking for lobbying reports that include federal and state lobbying payments, payments to trade associations used for lobbying, and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation. Political activity remains a top investor topic for the sixth consecutive year, with more than 90 proposals filed for 2016 that seek disclosure of either lobbying or political contributions.

Reflecting investors’ interest in disclosure of corporate political spending, a rulemaking petition at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require disclosure of corporate political spending has received a record level of support. More than 1.2 million comment letters have been submitted¾the vast majority in support of the proposed rule. Moreover, according to a 2015 survey, a majority of public company board members believe that the SEC needs to develop mandatory disclosure rules for corporate political contributions[1].  Still, the SEC has yet to act, and in December 2015 Congress passed the budget bill that included a rider that bars the SEC from issuing political spending disclosure rulemaking.

Proponents believe that disclosure allows shareholders to evaluate whether lobbying is consistent with a company’s expressed goals and is in the best interests of the company and shareholders. Corporate reputation is an important component of shareholder value, and controversial lobbying activity can pose significant reputational risk.

Undisclosed company payments to trade associations used for lobbying are a notable shortcoming in current reporting that allow companies to influence policy anonymously. Trade associations are not required to disclose their members or source of funds used for lobbying, and the amounts are substantial. For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (“Chamber”) spent $208 million to lobby in 2014 and 2015, and over $1.2 billion on lobbying since 1998.

Investors believe companies need to safeguard corporate reputations that may be affected by controversial political spending, including through third party involvement. For example, if a company takes steps to address climate change while simultaneously supporting trade groups that oppose legislative or regulatory efforts to limit its effects, then they are contributing to positions that run counter to company climate policy. Noting this contradiction, companies such as Apple and PG&E previously ended their membership in the Chamber because of its stance on climate change and opposition to EPA regulation. More recently, the Chamber has opposed the EPA Clean Power Plan rulemaking and sued the EPA. Chamber member companies with climate change policies that received resolutions include: AbbVie, Alphabet (formerly Google), American Express, AT&T, Bank of America, Citigroup, ConocoPhillips, Facebook, General Electric, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Motorola Solutions, Travelers Companies, Verizon and UPS.

CVS Health’s decision last July to end its membership in the Chamber over the organization’s efforts to lobby against anti-smoking laws in countries around the globe provides another case in point. CVS Health stated that the Chamber’s position on tobacco products is inconsistent with its business focus on health. Health care companies that are members of the Chamber and received shareholder proposals include AbbVie, Anthem, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

The proposals also continue to focus on reputational risks from involvement in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a tax-exempt organization that convenes state lawmakers and corporations to approve model legislation for passage at the state level. This legislation has included controversial bills on repealing state regulations on renewable energy, blocking paid sick leave, pre-empting minimum wage increases and opposing EPA regulation such as the Clean Power Plan. More than 105 companies have left ALEC in recent years, including 3M, BP, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Shell, Visa and Yahoo. Prominent current ALEC members receiving 2016 proposals include: AT&T, Caterpillar, Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, Comcast, Devon Energy, Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, ExxonMobil, Honeywell, Nucor Corporation, Pfizer, Spectra Energy, Time Warner Cable, UPS and Verizon. 

Opponents of disclosure, which have included many of the largest trade associations, claim that disclosure is a form of silencing speech[2].  Yet disclosure does not prohibit corporate lobbying in any way; it simply enables shareholders to evaluate whether lobbying is in the best interests of the company and shareholders.

This is the sixth year proposals asking for lobbying disclosure have been filed by investors. In 2015, 65 proponents filed 54 proposals, out of which 33 went to a vote and averaged 26 percent support. The proposals have led many companies to improve their lobbying disclosure, including disclosure agreements at more than 40 companies. 

The investor coalition is comprised of public pension funds, labor funds, asset managers, individual investors, international investors, foundations and religious investors, many whom are members of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility. This initiative is coordinated and supported by AFSCME and Walden Asset Management, a division of Boston Trust & Investment Management Company.

Companies receiving lobbying disclosure resolutions for 2016 are:

AbbVie (ABBV)
Allergan (AGN)
Alphabet (GOOGL)
American Airlines Group (AAL)
American Express (AXP)
Anthem (ANTM)
AT&T (T)
Bank of America (BAC)
Boeing (BA)
Caterpillar (CAT)
CenterPoint Energy (CNP)
Charles Schwab (SCHW)
Chesapeake Energy (CHK)
Chevron (CVX)
Citigroup (-C-)
Comcast (CMCSA)
ConocoPhillips (COP)

Devon Energy (DVN)
Dominion Resources (D)
Duke Energy (DUK)
DuPont (DD)
Emerson Electric (EMR)
Enbridge (ENB)
Exxon Mobil (XOM)
Facebook (FB)
FirstEnergy (FE)
General Electric (GE)
Honeywell (HON)
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Monsanto (MON)
Motorola Solutions (MSI)
Navient (NAVI)
Nucor Corporation (NUE)
Pfizer (PFE)

Philip Morris International (PM)
Raytheon (RTN)
Spectra Energy (SE)
Suncor (SU)
Tesoro Corp. (TSO)
Time Warner Cable (TWC)
TransCanada (TRP)
Travelers Companies (TRV)
Tyson Foods (TSN)
United Parcel Service (UPS)
Verizon (VZ)
Wal-Mart (WMT)
Walt Disney Company (DIS)
Wells Fargo (WFC)

Filers of lobbying disclosure resolutions for 2016 include:

Public Pension Funds
State of Connecticut Treasurer’s Office
Miami Firefighters’ Relief and Pension Fund
New York State Common Retirement Fund
City of Philadelphia Public Employees Retirement System

International Asset Managers and Pensions
ACTIAM (Netherlands)
AP7 Seventh Swedish National Pension Fund 

Labor Pension Plans and Organizations
CTW Investment Group
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Le Fonds de Solidarité
United Steelworkers

Asset Management Companies
Boston Common Asset Management
Clean Yield Asset Management
Domini Social Investments
First Affirmative Financial Network
Newground Social Investment
Pax World Fund
Sustainability Group, Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge
Trillium Asset Management
Walden Asset Management
Walden Equity Fund
Zevin Asset Management

Brainerd Foundation
Center for Community Change
Nathan Cummings
Haymarket People's Fund
Lemmon Foundation
Max and Anna Levinson Foundation
Merck Family Fund
Needmor Fund
Oneida Tribe of Indians Trust Fund for the Elderly
Christopher Reynolds Foundation
Russell Family Foundation
Swift Foundation
Tides Foundation 

Non-Profit Institutional Investors
As You Sow
Dwight Hall Socially Responsible Investment Fund at Yale
Manhattan Country School
Sum of Us 

Religious Filers
Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore – Emmanuel Monastery
Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica
Benedictine Sisters of Virginia
Community Church of New York
Congregation of Benedictine Sisters, Boerne, TX
Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brighton
Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise
First Parish in Cambridge – Unitarian Universalist
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
Glenmary Home Missioners
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
Mercy Investment Services
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
School Sisters of Notre Dame Cooperative Investment Fund
Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters
Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Halifax
Sisters of Notre Dame
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur-Boston
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
Sisters of the Holy Family, CA
Trinity Health
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Canada 

Daniel Altschuler
Carol Master
Gwendolen Noyes
Bernice Schoenbaum

2016 Lobbying Disclosure Resolution Filed at ExxonMobil

Whereas, we believe in full disclosure of our company’s direct and indirect lobbying activities and expenditures to assess whether our company’s lobbying is consistent with ExxonMobil’s expressed goals and in the best interests of shareholders.

Resolved, the shareholders of ExxonMobil request the preparation of a report, updated annually, disclosing:

  1. Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications.
  2. Payments by ExxonMobil used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient.
  3. ExxonMobil’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
  4. Description of management’s and the Board’s decision making process and oversight for making payments described in sections 2 and 3 above.

For purposes of this proposal, a “grassroots lobbying communication” is a communication directed to the general public that (a) refers to specific legislation or regulation, (b) reflects a view on the legislation or regulation and (c) encourages the recipient of the communication to take action with respect to the legislation or regulation. “Indirect lobbying” is lobbying engaged in by a trade association or other organization of which ExxonMobil is a member.

Both “direct and indirect lobbying” and “grassroots lobbying communications” include efforts at the local, state and federal levels.

The report shall be presented to the Audit Committee or other relevant oversight committees and posted on ExxonMobil’s website.  

Supporting Statement

As shareholders, we encourage transparency and accountability in ExxonMobil’s use of corporate funds to influence legislation and regulation. ExxonMobil spent $26.07 million in 2013 and 2014 on federal lobbying ( These figures do not include lobbying expenditures to influence legislation in states, where ExxonMobil also lobbies but disclosure is uneven or absent. For example, ExxonMobil spent $699,362 on lobbying in California for 2014 ( ExxonMobil’s lobbying on climate change has attracted media attention (“Exxon Knew about Climate Change Decades Ago, Spent $30M to Discredit It,” Christian Science Monitor, Sep. 17, 2015).

ExxonMobil is a member of the American Petroleum Institute, Business Roundtable and National Association of Manufacturers, which together spent over $65 million on lobbying for 2013 and 2014. ExxonMobil is also a member of the Western States Petroleum Association, which spent $13,553,942 on lobbying in California for 2013 and 2014. ExxonMobil does not disclose its memberships in, or payments to, trade associations, or the portions of such amounts used for lobbying. Transparent reporting would reveal whether company assets are being used for objectives contrary to ExxonMobil’s long-term interests.

And ExxonMobil does not disclose membership in or contributions to tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation, such as being a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ExxonMobil’s ALEC membership has drawn press scrutiny (“ExxonMobil Gave Millions to Climate-Denying Lawmakers despite Pledge,” The Guardian, Jul. 15, 2015). More than 100 companies have publicly left ALEC, including BP, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum and Shell.

[1] “The 2015 BDO Board Survey,” BDO, October 2015, p. 4.

[2] Dave Levinthal, “Trade Groups to Top Corporations: Resist Political Disclosure,” The Center for Public Integrity, January 27, 2016.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on President Obama’s Nomination of Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court Wed, 16 Mar 2016 11:13:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court:

“After decades of CEOs and corporations manipulating our nation’s rules to serve their interests, it is vitally important that the next U.S. Supreme Court justice brings balance to the highest Court in the land. The American people also deserve a Supreme Court that can function at full strength with nine qualified justices.

“President Obama has done the job he was elected to do by nominating a qualified justice to the Supreme Court. Congress must now do its job. To deprive the judicial branch of the government of a full Supreme Court bench in the name of political gamesmanship is an unprecedented level of obstruction.”

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on Hillary Clinton’s Victories in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and North Carolina Wed, 16 Mar 2016 08:00:00 -0500 AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Sec. Hillary Clinton’s victories in yesterday's primaries:

“Working people turned out for Secretary Hillary Clinton in the Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and North Carolina primaries yesterday because they trust her to be the champion our families need in the White House and to deliver on her promise of breaking down the barriers that hold our communities back.

“Hillary Clinton has the most detailed and progressive plans to raise incomes – including holding CEOs and corporations accountable, reducing the burden of student debt, and making it easier instead of harder for working people to join together in strong unions. That’s why the majority of union members nationwide chose to endorse Hillary Clinton, and are supporting her at ballot boxes and caucuses across the country.

“AFSCME public service workers helped to lead the joint-union GOTV efforts that were instrumental to Secretary Clinton’s victories. AFSCME members in yesterday's primary states joined with other working families to knock on tens of thousands of doors and turn out thousands of early vote supporters. As Secretary Clinton continues to expand her delegate lead and the start of the general election approaches, public service workers will never quit working to elect a president who shares our passion for public service.”