February 11, 2021


Tyson Foods to set tackle pressure from investors during shareholders meeting


Major United States meatpacker Tyson Foods is set to face pressure from investors to divulge its lobbying policies related to human rights at its upcoming shareholders meeting, following the spread of COVID-19 among meatpacking workers last year, Reuters reported.


Investors will vote on shareholder proposals urging the biggest meatpacker in the country (by sales) to prepare reports on its political contributions and policies about worker protections. A separate proposal calls for Tyson Foods to end its dual-class share structure as the Tyson family holds 71% voting power of the company's outstanding stock based on regulatory findings.


The proposals are likely to fail because of the Tyson family's voting power, but the proposals highlight calls for meat companies to explain various complaints brought about from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services, influential proxy advisory companies, have recommended investors to support the proposed measures.


Tyson Foods have maintained that their workers' health is their top priority, with policies imposed to protect human rights. The company said it has invested US$540 million on COVID-19-related costs in fiscal-year 2020, with US$300 million accounted for workers' bonuses. Tyson Foods also said it has taken steps to protect its workers from COVID-19.


Last week, Tyson Foods was sued for allegedly defrauding shareholders about its COVID-19 related policies and protecting workers from the pandemic.


In December, seven Tyson Foods' managers based in its Iowa pork plant were dismissed after they allegedly took bets on how many workers will be infected with COVID-19.


With regard to its dual-class share structure, Tyson Foods said this structure boosts the Tyson family's interest in the long-term success of the company against COVID-19 or other possible crises.


The company also said trade associations tackle problems that could benefit the company, and all its political contributions are reported as per applicable laws.


The Institutional Shareholder Services said Tyson's board would be more accountable if equal voting rights were imposed.


- Reuters

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