Amazon executives and stock holders are filing into the company’s annual shareholder meeting this morning and being greeted by protestors looking to shine a light on a variety of issues.
Groups demonstrating outside the event are focused on issues like climate change, housing and homelessness, better working conditions for security workers and more. Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who faced off against Amazon during the contentious debate over a head tax on the city’s largest employers, briefly took part in protests outside the company’s annual meeting in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.
Protests weren’t confined to outside the event. A group of Amazon employees asking the company to take action on climate change stood in white shirts inside the meeting in support of a shareholder resolution on the topic.
Emily Cunningham an Amazon UX designer and an organizer of the climate change initiative, asked Jeff Bezos to come out onto the stage to hear the proposal before making her case. Bezos, who is expected to give a presentation later in the meeting, did not appear.
We’ll have full coverage from inside the meeting later this morning. GeekWire’s Todd Bishop and Monica Nickelsburg are on the scene.
Big group of Amazon employees stands in white shirts during annual meeting to support climate change shareholder resolution. Company prohibits photography inside annual meeting and doesn’t webcast proceedings.
— toddbishop (@toddbishop) May 22, 2019
Good morning from Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting in Seattle, where protestors are already gathering. Stay tuned for updates. Pictured: SEIU6 calling out treatment of Amazon security workers. pic.twitter.com/KCwbhlixlV
— GeekWire (@geekwire) May 22, 2019
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is here to show support for SEIU6. pic.twitter.com/Dyngp4UOqh
— GeekWire (@geekwire) May 22, 2019
Peter Strand, Miranda Klinck, and Katy Sanlis are here to demand Amazon stop selling facial recognition software to law enforcement. pic.twitter.com/7P9htnq8uQ
— Monica Nickelsburg (@mnickelsburg) May 22, 2019
There are 11 shareholder resolutions included in Amazon’s annual proxy statement, more than any other public company this year. The resolutions focus on Amazon’s controversial facial recognition technology, demands for more action on climate change, salary transparency, and other equity issues.
RELATED: Amazon shareholders seek moratorium on facial recognition sales to government, climate change action and other political goals
More than 7,600 software engineers, managers, designers, and other Amazon workers signed an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos and the Amazon board of directors calling on the company to adopt a comprehensive climate change plan.
In the proxy statement, Amazon’s board recommends shareholders vote down the resolution because of the environmental programs and commitments already underway at the company. In February, Amazon announced plans to publish its carbon footprint for the first time this year.
In January shareholders filed a resolution asking the company to stop selling its facial recognition software to government agencies until the board has determined that the technology doesn’t pose risks to civil and human rights. The shareholders backing the resolution hold $1.32 billion in Amazon assets, according to Open MIC a non-profit that organized the initiative.
Amazon first introduced its image recognition service in 2016 and enhanced it to handle video recognition at AWS re:Invent 2017. The company says Rekognition “provides highly accurate facial analysis and facial recognition.”
In the proxy statement, Amazon claims that “some of these proposals contain assertions that we believe are incorrect.” The document recommends the board vote down many of the proposals but notes that, “in some cases, we already support some of the initiatives or concerns addressed in such proposals, and may already have taken actions that we believe address the underlying concerns of a proposal, but we may disagree with how the proposal seeks to prescribe the manner in which we address the issue.”