New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and New York City Comptroller Brad Lander today announced that they have called on Netflix shareholders to support their joint proposal urging the streaming service to uphold its employees’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Their shareholder proposal will be subject to a vote at the company’s annual meeting on June 1, 2023.
“Workers have fundamental rights, including the right to join a union and collectively bargain for better pay and workplace conditions,” DiNapoli said. “While Netflix says it’s now a leader in the highly unionized entertainment industry, it’s lagging when it comes to ensuring the rights of its employees. Failure to uphold workers’ rights can damage the company and its investors.”
“Netflix can and must do better to improve their commitment to upholding worker rights if they want to remain a leader in the entertainment industry. They have thus far failed to adopt and disclose a clear policy on freedom of association and collective bargaining exposing it to human capital management risks that could harm long-term shareholder value. As investors, we are concerned when the behavior of a portfolio company stands in contrast with fair treatment of its workforce,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander.
The shareholder proposal at Netflix asks the board “to adopt and publicly disclose a policy on their commitment to respect their employees’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.” It notes that employees’ discontent with management has resulted in walkouts and demands for change in company culture. Many of the working conditions at the heart of the Writers Guild of America strike reflect issues that would appropriately be addressed by a comprehensive human rights policy.
Netflix should have a publicly disclosed policy to enable investors to assess whether the company is sufficiently addressing labor risks and their potential effect on stockholder value.
DiNapoli and Lander’s Netflix proposal was part of a broader 2023 initiative to encourage companies to adopt better workers' rights policies and practices. This included co-filing shareholder proposals at CVS Pharmacy Inc., DoorDash Inc. and Walmart Inc., and separately at Gannett Co. Shareholders are expected to vote on the proposal at CVS’s annual meeting on May 18, 2023.
Link to exempt solicitation encouraging Netflix shareholders to support their proposal: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/810265/000121465923006341/j52231px14a6g.htm
About the New York State Common Retirement Fund
The New York State Common Retirement Fund is one of the largest public pension funds in the United States. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. The Fund has consistently been ranked as one of the best managed and best funded plans in the nation.