MAKE TIAA-CREF ETHICAL
Holding TIAA CREF Accountable
NEW DEVELOPMENT, October, 2010. Report on July, 2010 annual shareholder meeting of CREF.
NEW DEVELOPMENT, October, 2009. On October 14, the 1.4 million strong American Federation of Teachers (AFT) passed a new resolution regarding TIAA-CREF investment and policy on issues of human/labor/civil rights. This resolution was tougher and more specific than their 2007 resolution, which was based on collaborative work between our Coalition and the CUNY Professional Staff Congress. In its response to the AFT’s new resolution, TIAA-CREF also revealed publically for the first time that it is now in conversation with Nike, the third of our four target companies that TIAA-CREF is now talking to. This is more progress for our efforts, but we still need for TIAA-CREF to move beyond just talking with these companies.
NEW DEVELOPMENT, 2008. TIAA-CREF PUBLICALLY STATES THAT THEY HAVE BEEN IN CONVERSATION WITH BOTH Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart, two of our current five target companies!! So, we are making progress in our attempts to get TIAA engaged with these companies. But as seen below, we need for them to take tougher stands with these corporate giants in order to move them. See the message below regarding details and how you can best help the cause, at this point. THANKS
“MAKE TIAA-CREF ETHICAL COALITION” ASKS : IS YOUR INVESTMENT REALLY GOING TOWARD THE “GREATER GOOD”?
(You can help promote corporate responsibility even if you are not in the TIAA-CREF pension system)
Dear Professor/Staff Member,
It’s morning in America --- do you know where your pension fund assets were last night?
Would it upset you to know that TIAA-CREF (TC) ---the nation’s largest retirement fund---is a major investor in companies like Wal-Mart, Nike, Costco and Coca-Cola? Millions of TIAA-CREF participants are contributing their money to support abusive human and labor rights practices, destruction of the environment, and harming of human health.
The fact is, some of our country’s worst corporate violators are right at home in the portfolio of TC—which says it provides financial services “for the greater good.”
In 2007, the 600,000-member New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) passed a resolution critical of CREF’s continued investment in several of these corporations. (See attached resolution.) Soon after, the 1.3 million member strong American Federation of Teachers passed a similar resolution. As educators and those working along-side them, we have spent our careers trying to help students learn the truth about the world around them. The truth is that TIAA-CREF continues to invest our funds in these corporate bad actors.
We don’t want our investment —
- Exploiting Third World workers at Nike and Wal-Mart vendor sweatshops
- Aggressively union-busting American workers at Wal-Mart
- Destroying historic Mexican culture to build Costcos-- and abusing the human rights of those who protest.
- Polluting drinking waters in India; allowing the intimidation or even killing of union workers under the not-so-watchful eye of Coca-Cola bosses in Colombia
It’s time for faculty, staff, and students on campuses across America to tell TIAA-CREF it must use its considerable shareholder power to influence these corporations for the better--or stop investing in them. Our work is starting to pay off, but we have a long way to go. TC has now told us that they have been talking with both Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, they have been talking with Coke since 2006, with no substantive changes. Two years is enough time to give Coke. It’s time for TC to do more than just “talk” with Coke and Wal-Mart. And, indeed, TC lists such tactics as collective action, regulatory relief, and litigation, among others, in its Policy Statement on Corporate Governance. Why list them if they are not used? After further lobbying, an August ’08 press release from TC states ”Engagement is a multi-step process. TIAA-CREF believes that we should explore the ways in which to influence the companies' behavior and thereby help bring about positive social change.” Yet in talking with them since then, they have explicitly said they will not go beyond talking and possible/occasional shareholder resolution work in dealing with companies it engages. Let us hold them to what they said earlier, and what is the right thing to do.
What can you do? Let’s turn up the heat on CREF to truly invest for the “greater good.” Help us educate the faculty, staff, and students on your campus and nationwide. Email this message to others at your school and elsewhere. (We also have an op-ed that can be distributed to listservs, academic/administrative publications, organizations, schools, etc.)
All of us need to :
- Individuals should call TIAA-CREF at 800-842-2733 (212-490-9000) and ask for CEO Roger Ferguson. Leave the message: “I want TIAA-CREF to put Wal-Mart, Nike, Coca Cola, and Costco, on notice that if they don’t clean up their human rights, environmental, and health practices, that CREF will find other companies to invest in.” Importantly, tell TIAA-CREF to start using those tougher tactics with Wal-Mart and Coke—ways that will be needed to influence these corporate giants. If you are in the TIAA-CREF system; and if you are able to do so at your institution and feel strongly enough, say that you (or your whole school) will withdraw money from TIAA-CREF if they don’t decide to engage or withdraw from these companies.
- Individuals should also email Mr. Ferguson and TIAA-CREF Trustees with the same message: RWFerguson@tiaa-cref.org; email@example.com
- As a faculty or staff body, send a letter to TIAA-CREF and/or pass a resolution similar to NYSUT's and send them to: Roger W. Ferguson, CEO, TIAA-CREF, 730 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
- Tell local or national media about the concerns raised in your letter or resolution
Express your concerns to TC representatives visiting your campus
Neil Wollman; Ph. D.; Senior Fellow, Bentley Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility; Bentley University; Waltham, MA, 02452; NWollman@Bentley.edu; 260-568-0116
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 Bentley Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility; Bentley University.
TIAA-CREF’s Response to the resolution
Here is a response from TIAA-CREF to the AFT resolution and an accompanying letter from AFT. (We don’t have a copy of AFT’s original letter and are assuming that the resolution itself was also sent.) Unfortunately, TIAA-CREF’s letter does not address the issue of their continued investment in labor-unfriendly companies like Wal-Mart, Coke, and Nike. Neither does it address the resolution’s call for TIAA-CREF to “substantially strengthen their corporate oversight of companies in which it invests.” This translates into TIAA-CREF needing to practice shareholder activism on labor issues with its portfolio companies, spotlighting Coke, Wal-Mart, and Nike (three of the target companies we seek TIAA-CREF to influence).
*Resolution passed by NYSUT about TIAA-CREF (AFT passed a very similar resolution a little later in time)*
*Submitted by: *Professional Staff Congress/CUNY
Campaign success; TIAA-CREF adds community and environmental investment to its socially responsible fund. Read More...
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