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2007-05-05
New York, NY. State Teachers Urge CREF To Strengthen Oversight Of Wal-Mart

On February 19, 2006, Sprawl-Busters noted that TIAA CREF, the teacher's pension fund, is the 15th. largest institutional investor in Wal-Mart, holding 20.5 million shares, worth $945.2 million. The TIAA CREF Trust Company owns another 126,680 shares, worth another $5.8 million. Last week, the New York State Union of Teachers (NYSUT) sent a warning shot across the bow of TIAA-CREF. On April 27th, the NYSUT passed a resolution titled "Urging TIAA-CREF to Continue Developing Shareholder Activism In Support Of Labor Rights In the United States and Abroad." The resolution was originally submitted by the Professional Staff Congress at the City University of New York (CUNY). Excerpts from the Resolution are as follows: "Whereas, NYSUT has been historically committed to the defense of human, civil and labor rights as well as the promotion of social justice both at home and abroad; and Whereas, NYSUT members in higher education generally have the option of selecting TIAA-CREF as their retirement plan, and the decision, made within the first month of full-time employment, is irrevocable; and Whereas, NYSUT has continuously demonstrated its opposition to low-wage, non-unionized labor; and Whereas, NYSUT has consistently informed its members and the public at-large regarding the unfair labor practices of many corporations currently included in TIAA-CREF's stock portfolio (e.g. Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Nike and others) and whose Third World suppliers routinely ignore workers' rights to organize and collectively bargain; and Whereas, a significant number of NYSUT's members in higher education have their pensions invested in TIAA-CREF; and... Whereas, TIAA-CREF prides itself on being sensitive to the concerns which investors express about socially responsible investment policies; and claims to endorse and engage in corporate accountability; and Whereas, TIAA-CREF's Social Choice Account... does not exclude corporations that insufficiently promote labor rights both at home and abroad; therefore be it Resolved, that NYSUT recognizes that its members who participate in TIAA-CREF should be offered the option of socially conscious investments that include options that screen for companies' labor policies as well as other social criteria; and Resolved, that NYSUT on behalf of its membership encourages TIAA-CREF's directors and trustees to substantially strengthen their corporate oversight of companies in which it invests; and be it further, Resolved, that NYSUT encourages TIAA-CREF's new office of Social and Community Investing to refine its Social Choice Account so that it contains an explicit, clearly monitored and widely publicized labor rights screen that rules out the inclusion of companies, both in the United States and abroad, that conduct anti-union intimidation campaigns, refuse to bargain collectively, do not pay a living wage and don't offer minimal health and retirement benefits; and be it further Resolved, that NYSUT encourage TIAA-CREF's office of Social and Community Investing to offer new options that include companies with strong records in workers' rights, community development and environmental issues; and be it further Resolved, that NYSUT communicate its interest in a socially conscious investment policy that includes labor screening to the TIAA-CREF President and Chief Executive Officer, the Vice-President and Chief Investment Officer, the Head of Corporate Governance, the Director and Managing Director of Social and Community Investing and the Board of Trustees and ask for a response within three months of this NYSUT convention."


What you can do: For years, TIAA-CREF has marketed its investments as socially conscious, while choosing to invest in companies like Wal-Mart, whose business model is based on widespread exploitation of its workers and its host communities. Sprawl-Busters is a member of the "Make TIAA-CREF Ethical" coalition, which is seeking to raise awareness on campuses across the country, that retired educators are helping to fuel Wal-Mart's unethical corporate behavior, using CREF pension funds. The Coalition is reaching out to faculty and student groups alike, urging them to pass resolutions similar to the one adopted by NYSUT. It's time to teach TIAA-CREF a lesson: Wal-Mart is out for no one's greater good except their own. The members of the Make TIAA-CREF Coalition include: Sprawl-Busters, Press for Change, Campaign to Stop Killer Coke/Corporate Campaign, Inc.,Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Social Choice for Social Change, Citizens Coalition (Frente Civico), Educating for Justice, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, United Students Against Sweatshops, Canadian Committee To Combat Crimes Against Humanity (CCCCH), Corporate Accountability International (formerly Infact), World Bank Bonds Boycott. Make TIAA-CREF Ethical is a project of the Peace Studies Institute, Manchester College. For more information, contact Neil Wollman, NJWollman@manchester.edu










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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