The two most prominent and influential proxy advisory services in the nation are recommending that shareholders vote for a proposal that asks Uber Technologies Inc. to produce a report on its lobbying activities. In their opposition to the resolution, Uber UBER, -0.78% maintain that they reveal enough information about their lobbying. Glass Lewis & Co. and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) disagree, both pointing to the example of the ride-sharing giant’s spending on the Proposition 22 ballot initiative in California.
“The company lacks full disclosure of its lobbying activities and expenditures, and its political activity policy provides little information on the management and oversight of lobbying expenditures,” ISS said in its Uber proxy investigation report released on Tuesday. Also Tuesday, Uber filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission a response to Glass Lewis’ recommendation, which was published last week. In the presentation, the ridesharing giant said the advisory firm’s recommendation was based “primarily on criticism of Uber’s strong support and advocacy for Proposition 22 in California in 2020,” which it called beneficial to drivers. , consumers, the company and investors. Proposition 22, which 58% of California voters passed in November, exempts Uber and other app-based gig companies from a law that would have required them to classify their drivers and delivery people as employees rather than independent contractors. Of the more than $ 200 million that concert companies spent on that initiative, Uber spent the most: more than $ 57 million, including non-cash contributions and loans. See: In a record $ 200 million fight to preserve the concert economy, couriers don’t always need money In her proxy document, Glass Lewis referred to Uber’s “controversial lobbying on Proposition 22”, saying that “we believe that the company could provide more information on the payments made to trade associations, or the portion of its dues paid to such organizations, that is used for lobbying and political purposes. ” The Teamsters earlier this month submitted an exempt application urging shareholders to vote on the proposal presented by the Teamsters General Fund. “Not only is Uber’s lobbying substantial, geographically extensive and highly innovative, it is deeply controversial and raises critical questions about the sustainability of the company’s business model,” wrote Ken Hall, secretary general and treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Keir Gumbs, Uber’s deputy general counsel, mentioned in the presentation that the company already discloses: its policy on corporate political activities in the United States; a list of Uber memberships and payments to trade associations where Uber pays dues of more than $ 50,000; the company’s US corporate political contributions; aggregated and reported federal, state, and local lobbying figures; Uber’s independent corporate spending in the United States; and the procedures governing direct and indirect lobbying by Uber. “We believe that Uber’s board oversight of political and lobbying activities is significant, our disclosure is accessible and transparent … and that our political advocacy activities are strongly aligned with our business strategy, the interests of our parties. stakeholders and the creation of value for shareholders “. Gumbs wrote. Uber did not return a request for additional comment on Tuesday. Michael Connor, CEO of Open MIC (Media and Information Companies Initiative), a nonprofit organization working on socially responsible investing and shareholder engagement, told MarketWatch that the recommendations from Glass Lewis and ISS, which advise to many of the world’s largest asset managers, “they are a huge problem and can translate to an additional twenty percentage points or more on the final tabulation of a proposal.” Investors in the San Francisco-based company are scheduled to vote on this and other proposals at the annual shareholders ‘meeting on May 10. See: Netflix and Uber Support US Voting Rights, While Fighting Their Own Investors’ Impulses for More Democratic Practices