US auto workers’ trust and faith investors withdraw supply chain proposal at McDonald’s

Investors say restaurant chain publishes human rights assessment

The giant US auto industry retiree trust and faith investor co-sponsors have withdrawn a shareholder proposal on human rights supply chain disclosure at restaurant chain McDonald’s, saying the company has largely met their demands.

The motion had been submitted by the $56bn (€41.5bn) UAW [United Auto Workers] Retiree Medical Benefits Trust and co-sponsored by Mercy Investment Services and Catholic Health East Consolidated Master Retirement Fund (Catholic Health East) ahead of McDonald’s forthcoming annual meeting.

The UAW trust, the body which funds health benefits for car workers and which set up its corporate governance program in 2010, had filed the resolution in December last year.

It sought disclosure to shareholders of the company’s process for identifying human rights risks in its operations and supply chain – a “human rights risk assessment.”

The Trust said it is withdrawing its proposal after receiving notice that McDonald’s board-level Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Committee had approved an assessment that “substantially” covers the information it requested. It was approved on January 9 and posted on the company’s website.“We appreciate your responsiveness to the issues addressed in the shareholder proposal,” said UAW’s Corporate Governance Director Cambria Allen in a letter to Denise Horne, McDonald’s Associate General Counsel. Allen also referred to a similar proposal filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and co-sponsored by the UAW Trust that went to a vote in 2013.
At the time, McDonald’s had resisted the proposal saying it was potentially “a diversion of resources with no corresponding benefit to the company, our customers or our shareholders”. The measure failed to pass, attracting 180.2m votes in favour and 341.3m against.

While no dialogue occurred this time round between the proponents and the company, UAW’s Allen adds: “We are pleased that McDonald’s has moved toward taking a leadership role among its corporate peers on this issue.”

Mercy Investments is the socially responsible asset management program for the Sisters of Mercy Catholic order. Last month Mercy highlighted how its dialogue with Milwaukee-based manufacturing firm Joy Global had led to changes in the company’s policy on board diversity. Catholic Health East is the Pennsylvania-based health system with assets of around $19.3bn.