Investors “recognize that constructive and positive labor relations are critical to a company’s long-term success.”

New York, NY – An international coalition of major institutional investors, managing $757 billion across the global economy, sent a letter to all S&P 100 companies recently asking for information on how they protect and enhance labor rights for their U.S. employees, and how they view the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (S. 560 and H.R. 1409).

The signers of the letter are signatories to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and believe that environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues have a significant impact on long-term financial returns. Company responses to the letter will be shared with all participating PRI signatories.

The letters have been sent to companies such as Bank of America, McDonald’s and Lowe’s. In it, the investor group informs S&P 100 companies that “The freedom to form or join a union of one’s choice or not, and to bargain collectively for the terms of one’s employment, are fundamental human rights that we as global investors recognize and respect.”

Steven Heim from Boston Common Asset Management, LLC explained, “The current debate about the Employee Free Choice Act has highlighted the need to better understand a company’s position, workplace policies, and responses regarding unions and collective bargaining, and determine how companies are positioned in light of the Act and the issues it raises. This initiative seeks to gather information to identify best practices and gaps of the largest US corporations in order to generate insights which will feed into our investment decisions.”

“We believe it is in each company’s long-term best interests to reassess their policies and procedures to ensure their employees’ rights are fully protected,” said Adam Kanzer, Managing Director and General Counsel at Domini Social Investments LLC. “We encourage companies to look to the standards set by the International Labor Organization when they establish a higher standard than U.S. law, particularly in the areas of freedom of association and collective bargaining.”

“There is information from a number of sources, including internationally respected human rights organizations, that raises concerns about gaps between U.S. law and the ILO conventions, particularly freedom of association. There is a gap that could create risks for both employees and employers, said Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President of Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Asset Management Company Inc.”

“As long-term investors, we want companies to create value in a sustainable way,” said Ian Greenwood, Chair of the U.K.-based Local Authority Pension Fund Forum. “Constructive labor relations can be a positive influence on productivity, foster trust and loyalty, and help attract and retain skilled staff, therefore this is an area shareholders need to be informed about. We hope this process will give us a better understanding of how US companies are addressing these challenges.”

Although individual investors within the Group may have taken a view on the Employee Free Choice Act legislation, the group as a whole has itself not formulated an official position.

A copy of the template letter at

For more information please contact Steven Heim, Boston Common Asset Management, or (617) 720-5557.

– xxx –

List of Signatories:

Daniel F. Pedrotty

Director, AFL-CIO Office of Investment

AFL-CIO Employees Staff Retirement Fund

Conrad MacKerron

Director, Corporate Social Responsibility Program

As You Sow Foundation

Michael O’Sullivan


Australian Council of Superannuation Investors

Steven Heim

Senior Vice President

Director of Social Research and Advocacy

Boston Common Asset Management, LLC

Bennett Freeman

Senior Vice President

Sustainability Research and Policy

Calvert Asset Management Company Inc.

Michael D. Underhill

Chief Investment Officer

Capital Innovations, LLC

Michael Quicke

Chief Executive

CCLA Investment Management Ltd.

Francois Meloche

Extra Financial Risk Manager

Comite Syndical National de Retraite Batirente

Adam Kanzer

Managing Director & General Counsel

Domini Social Investments LLC

Dominique Biedermann

Executive Director

Ethos Foundation

Linda E. Scott

Consultant, Corporate Governance

Governance for Owners LLP / GO USA Inc.

Stephen R. Brennan


Hamilton Lane

My-Linh Ngo

Associate Director SRI Research

Henderson Global Investors

Colin Melvin

Chief Executive

Hermes Equity Ownership Services

Jeanett Bergan

Head of Responsible Investments

Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP) A/S

Ian Greenwood


Local Authority Pension Fund Forum

Mike Taylor


London Pensions Fund Authority

Greg Sword



Gary A. Hawton

Chief Executive Officer

Meritas Mutual Funds

Jay Youngdahl

Co-Chair, Board of Trustees

Middletown Works VEBA

Luan Steinhilber

Director of Social Research

Miller/Howard Investments

Michael Kramer, AIF ®

Managing Partner & Director of Social Research

Natural Investments, LLC

Campbell Watterson

Deputy Chief Investment Officer

Newton Investment Management Limited

Julie Fox Gorte

Senior Vice President, Sustainable Investing

Pax World Management Corporation

Peter Damgaard Jensen

Chief Executive Officer

Pensionskassernes Administration (PKA) A/S

Richard W. Torgerson

President & Director of Research

Progressive Asset Management

Hans Aasnæs

Chief Executive Officer

Storebrand Investments

Stephen Viederman

Finance Committee

The Christopher Reynolds Foundation

Ian Jones

Head of Responsible Investment

The Co-operative Asset Management

Victor De Luca


The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

Lance E. Lindblom

President & CEO

The Nathan Cummings Foundation

Amy Domini

Private Trustee

The Sustainability Group at Loring, Wolcott, & Coolidge

Kathryn O’Neill

Director of Corporate Social Responsibility

The United Church Foundation

Therese Niklasson

Head of Governance and SRI

Threadneedle Asset Management

Shelley Alpern

Vice President

Trillium Asset Management Corporation

Timothy Smith

Senior Vice President

Environmental, Social and Governance Group

Walden Asset Management, a division of

Boston Trust and Investment Management Corp

Published On: May 28, 2009Categories: From the Commons