Proxy Season Update: AT&T

2014 Annual Meeting: 9:00 AM EDT, Friday, April 25, 2014
Rivermill Event Centre, River View Room, 3715 1st Ave., Columbus, GA, 31904

AT&T has three pending ESG shareholder proposals in 2014.

    • This resolution from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) asks for annual reports on policy, payments, memberships in groups that write model legislation, information on how these payments occur, and how management and the board of directors monitor them. The proposal says the reports should include:

      1. Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications.
      2. Payments by [the company] 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. [The company’s] membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
      4. Description of the decision making process and oversight by management and the Board 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 [the company] 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 of the Board and posted on the company’s website.

  • POLITICAL ACTIVITY: Campaign Spending
    • This resolution from Domini Social Investments asks for more board oversight and disclosure of corporate political campaign spending, asking the company to produce a report that discloses:

      1. Policies and procedures for making, with corporate funds or assets, contributions and expenditures (direct and indirect) to (a)participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, or (b) influence the general public, or any segment thereof, with respect to an election or referendum.
      2. Monetary and non-monetary contributions and expenditures (direct and indirect) used in the manner described in section 1 above, including:
      a. The identity of the recipient as well as the amount paid to each; and. The title(s) of the person(s) in the Company responsible for decision-making.

      The proposal also looks at indirect campaign spending, saying the requested report should cover the following:

      1. Policies and procedures for expenditures made with corporate funds to trade associations and other tax-exempt entities that are used for political purposes (“indirect” political contributions or expenditures).
      2. Indirect monetary and non-monetary expenditures used for political purposes, i.e., to participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, and used in any attempt to influence the general public, or segments thereof, with respect to elections.

      …This proposal does not encompass payments used for lobbying.

  • HUMAN RIGHTS: Data Privacy
    • Following the revelations about extensive government surveillance programs in summer 2013, Harrington Investments filed a proposal about data privacy at AT&T, asking the company to:

      …publish semi-annual reports, subject to existing laws and regulation, providing metrics and discussion regarding requests for customer information by U.S. and foreign governments.

      The proposal also asks the board of directors to:

      …review the company’s policies and procedures relating to directors’ moral, ethical and legal fiduciary duties and opportunities to ensure that the Company protects the privacy rights of American citizens protected by the U.S. Constitution, and report to shareholders no later than six months following the 2014 annual shareholder meeting…

For more information, download Proxy Preview 2014 to find more lobbying, campaign spending, and privacy shareholder resolutions.