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New York City Pension Funds File Three Shareholders Proposals With ExxonMobil

Published 01-28-04

Submitted by Office of the Comptroller, New York City

New York City - New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., on behalf of three New York City Retirement Systems, has filed shareholder proposals with ExxonMobil, urging the company to implement the MacBride principles, promote use of renewable energy and adopt a company-wide workplace human rights policy. The proposals were submitted for the vote of shareholders at ExxonMobil's 2004 annual meeting.

"The trustees of the New York City pension funds believe that, as a Fortune 500 company and as a company in which the funds have invested millions of dollars of the earnings of current and retired employees for their retirement benefits, ExxonMobil should set a good example of how a corporation should operate," Thompson said. "Adopting measures to end employment discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland, researchingways to produce renewable energy, and adopting and fully implementing international standards of human rights would go a long way toward setting this example."

As a result of the effort, ExxonMobil has notified the Comptroller that it will implement the MacBride Principles. The measure requesting that action was filed on behalf of the New York City Police Pension Fund and is associated with securing a lasting peace in Northern Ireland and eliminating employment discrimination in that region. The Comptroller will now withdraw the resolution.

Dr. Sean MacBride, founder of Amnesty International, has proposed the MacBride Principles as equal opportunity employment guidelines for corporations in Northern Ireland. ExxonMobil currently licenses 14 service stations in Northern Ireland.

The Principles include increasing the number of individuals from underrepresented religious groups in the workforce, including managerial, supervisory, administrative, clerical, and technical jobs, and providing adequate security for the protection of minority employees in the workplace and while traveling to and from work. MacBride advocates the banning of all provocative, religious or political emblems from the workplace and the appointment of a senior management staff member to oversee the company's affirmative action efforts and establish timetables to carry out affirmative action principles. The Fund currently holds more than 3.6 million shares in ExxonMobil worth $151,653,014.

Thompson and the New York City Fire Pension Fund have, for the second time, filed a proposal to encourage ExxonMobil to diversify its energy products through the development of more non-polluting sources. The Fund holds more than 168,000 ExxonMobil shares worth close to $7 million. The proposal cited various sources to refute ExxonMobil's contention that "while renewable energy supplies are expanding, it is important to recognize that they are doing so from a very small base." The proposal quotes Business Week as stating that wind power is "the fastest growing game in the power business. Global wind capacity has nearly quadrupled in the past five years."

The proposal notes that ExxonMobil's competitors have made significant investments in renewable energy. Last year, the proposal received a "yes" vote from 21.3 percent of the shareholders, a percentage that allowed Thompson to resubmit the measure this year.

"The research and development of renewable energy sources is a wise idea from an environmental and financial perspective," Thompson said. "It is quite clear that renewable energy will be important in the future. Not investing money in that future will put at a competitive disadvantage with negative consequences for the company and its shareholders."

Thompson filed a third proposal with ExxonMobil on behalf of the New York City Teachers Retirement System (TRS). The measure urges the Board of Directors to adopt and implement a company-wide workplace human rights policy based on the International Labor Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and asks the company to prepare and make available to shareholders a report concerning implementation of this policy.

ILO Declaration includes the following principles: allowing all workers to form and join trade unions, prohibiting child labor, barring discrimination or intimidation in employment, and not using forced labor, including bonded or voluntary prison labor.

"The Declaration we are asking ExxonMobil to adopt is an affirmation of basic human rights. The ban on child labor and forced labor are rights that every citizen of the world should be granted," Thompson said.

The proposal's supporting statement notes that ExxonMobil faces potentially high risks associated with workplace human rights violations because of its operations in countries where, according to the U.S. State Department, workplace human rights are not adequately protected in law and/or practice. The countries include Angola, Cameroon, China, Indonesia, and Nigeria. The statement notes that involvement with workplace human rights violations could expose ExxonMobil to costly and time-consuming litigation. TRS holds more than 5.4 million shares of ExxonMobil worth $223 million.

"A human-rights policy would help ExxonMobil's business in countless ways, including bolstering the company's global image and reputation," Thompson said. "I am pleased that the company has taken a good first step in publishing its Standards of Business Conduct, but more needs to be done."

The proposals come on the heels of a proposal filed by Thompson last month on behalf of the New York City Employees' Retirement System with ExxonMobil. The measure renews the pension fund's call for ExxonMobil to amend its non-discrimination policy to adopt policies that specifically bar discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Fund currently holds 11.9 million shares worth approximately $446 million in the ExxonMobil.

Serving with Comptroller Thompson on the NYCERS board are: Martha Stark, NYCERS Chairperson and Commissioner of the New York City Department of Finance; Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum; Borough Presidents C. Virginia Fields (Manhattan), Marty Markowitz (Brooklyn), Adolfo Carrion (Bronx), Helen Marshall (Queens), and James Molinaro (Staten Island); Lillian Roberts, Executive Director of District Council 37, AFSCME; Roger Toussaint, President, TWU-Local 100; and, Carroll Haynes, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.

In addition to Thompson and Stark, the TRS trustees are: Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Kathleen Grimm, Deputy Chancellor, New York City Department of Education; Phillip Berry, Vice President, Colgate Palmolive Inc.; and, Sandra March, Melvyn Aaronson and Mona Romain, all of the United Federation of Teachers.

Besides Thompson, trustees on the Fire Pension Fund are: Bloomberg; Stark; Nicholas Scoppetta, Chair, New York City Fire Commissioner; Stephen Cassidy, President, James Slevin, and Kevin McAdams, Treasurer, and Robert Straub, Bronx Trustee-Uniformed Firefighter's Assoc. of Greater New York; Peter Gorman, President / Captains Rep.Uniformed Fire Officers Assoc.; Arthur Parrinello, Chief's Rep., and Stephen Carbone, Lieutenant's Rep., Uniformed Fire Officers Assoc.; and, Joseph Gagliardi, Marine Engineers Assoc.

In addition to Thompson, trustees on the Police Pension Fund are: Bloomberg; Stark; Raymond Kelly, Chair, New York City Police Commissioner; Patrick Lynch, Police Benevolent Association; Mubarak Abdul-Jabar and Scott Williamson, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Police Benevolent Association; Thomas Scotto, Detectives Endowment Association; Edwin Mullins, Sergeants Benevolent Association; Anthony Garvey, Lieutenants Benevolent Association; and John Driscoll, Captains Endowment Association.

Copies of the resolutions are available on the Comptroller's web site at www.comptroller.nyc.gov

Jeff Simmons
Press Secretary
Office of the Comptroller
1 Centre Street, Room 526
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (212) 669-2636
Fax: (212) 815-8719

Office of the Comptroller, New York City

Office of the Comptroller, New York City

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