70%+ of Independent Thomson Reuters Shareholders Demand Action on Human Rights Risks Related to ICE Contracts
The majority of independent shareholders demand human rights due diligence related to contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security
Burnaby - At the Thomson Reuters (NYSE, TSX: TRI) annual general meeting of shareholders held today, 19% of all shareholders, and over 70% of independent shareholders (shareholders other than Thomson Reuters controlling shareholder) voted in favour of a proposal asking the company to investigate and report on potential human rights abuses enabled by contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the purposes of tracking migrants and asylum seekers for detention and deportation on an unprecedented scale.
The proposal was presented by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), a Thomson Reuters investor. The proposal earned a strong vote despite being voted against by Thomson Reuters's controlling shareholder, The Woodbridge Company. Last year's similar proposal received 33 million votes in favour and today's vote received at least 84 million supportive votes, over 150% more supportive votes than last year. This is an outstanding result and clearly demonstrates that shareholders are worried about the risks associated with helping ICE to enforce their agenda of deporting millions of people from the United States.
In response to the AGM results, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith released the following statement:
"At least 70% of independent shareholders supporting this resolution represents a stunning victory for human rights given the company is controlled by one family, the Thomson family. Shareholders have registered their concern loudly and clearly. Thomson Reuters is failing to tackle very serious and concerning human rights risks related to contracts with agencies like ICE, and shareholders aren't buying their excuses," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.
Thomson Reuters has received over $101 million in ICE contracts to provide data brokerage services that help the U.S. agency target undocumented immigrants for detention and deportation. It currently has contracts worth US$52 million with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including at least US$39.1 million in active contracts with ICE.
These contracts provide, among other services, social media monitoring, license plate readers, and "risk mitigation services," in which ICE agents paint immigration activists as "threats" to ICE and surveil them, often retaliating against them with deportations. This work sometimes involves Thomson Reuters employees embedded directly in ICE offices, working with ICE agents to provide personal information on targets.
"Thomson Reuters is one of Canada's best known media companies and its rapid pivot to become a tech and data brokering giant has left investors in the lurch with regards to human rights risk. Today's AGM shows clearly that investors need more information to better understand how risks are being managed at Thomson Reuters as the company transitions to a technology and AI business. For a heavily controlled company like Thomson Reuters, this is an overwhelming win," said Smith.
Thomson Reuters's technology has been directly linked to the deportations of undocumented immigrants in the United States, potentially involving family separation and the detention of people in conditions that violate their human rights.
The proposal was endorsed by both Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, the leading independent governance analysis and proxy voting firms in the world which collectively advise on trillions of dollars in assets under management, in addition to other high profile institutional investors, lawyers, and human rights experts.
At today's virtual shareholder meeting, Thomson Reuters only disclosed the percentage voting results. The additional figures given in this press release are based on information provided by Thomson Reuters during the virtual meeting, including that over 90% of Thomson Reuters' shares were voted at the meeting.
View the BCGEU shareholder proposal here: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/bcgeu/pages/896/attachments/original/1623198535/Thomson_Reuters_Proposal_Text_2021_.pdf?1623198535
For media inquiries, contact Emma Pullman, BCGEU Capital Markets Advisor [email protected]
About BCGEU: BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 82,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province. Under BCGEU's capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals at Canada's top companies on topics like human rights, sexual misconduct, and executive compensation.