Thursday, September 12, 2013

Proxy advisors back Teamsters call for new FedEx head

The Teamsters have been fighting for an independent board chairman at FedEx for years. That fight got a big boost this week with the nation’s two largest proxy advisors telling the company’s shareholders that they should back the Teamsters’ call for a new leader at the company’s Sept. 23 annual meeting.

ISS and Glass Lewis, both leading providers of proxy research for institutional investors, tell FedEx shareholders in separate reports that it’s time to get rid of Fred Smith, FedEx’s founder, who has served as both chairman and chief executive officer for more than 35 years. According to ISS, the company’s middling performance in recent years and generous stock rewards for senior executive necessitates the move.
Smith has received nearly 375,000 shares in the form of stock options valued at more than $14.6 million over the past two years while the company’s stock has not kept up with competitors. Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall said:
The FedEx board continues to lavish Fred Smith with stock options worth millions despite the company’s long-term underperformance of its peers. Shareholders deserve an independent chairman of the board with a vision for the future.
Fred Smith has a long and sordid history of fighting to limit worker rights through his FedEx machine. Not only does its ground operation engage in the misclassification of drivers, but it’s a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC, the escort service for corporations and state lawmakers, get its legislator friends to push anti-worker legislation at statehouses across the country that keeps wages low, stymies health care provisions and even attacks public education.

All this points to one thing -- it is time for a new direction at FedEx.