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In a season of protests, Amazon prepares for annual meeting

amazon protests.jpg
In this photo from Working Washington website, protesters give Amazon a taste of what the group hopes will be a big day for them, and the company.

With the Occupy Seattle protests having morphed into a movement targeting banks and companies that protesters believe do not live up to progressive ideals, the local protest movement self-dubbed “Working Washington” says it will be at Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday in force.

And, with continual protests focusing on its Seattle offices, as Seattle tech blog Geekwire reports, the company is warning protesters to stay off its property.

Geekwire saw the warning today: Facing a constant presence of the group “the company responded with a message of its own, putting up signs at the edges of its courtyard at 410 Terry Ave. in Seattle warning that unauthorized entry would be subject to prosecution for criminal trespass.”

Amazon’s annual shareholders’ meeting is Thursday at the Seattle Art Museum.

In its “20121 Proxy Statement,” Amazon lists its agenda:

  • To elect the ten directors named in the Proxy Statement to serve until the next Annual Meeting of Shareholders or until their respective successors are elected and qualified
  • To ratify the appointment of Ernst & Young LLP as our independent auditors for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2012
  • To approve the material terms of the performance goals, as amended, pursuant to Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) in our 1997 Stock Incentive Plan (the “1997 Plan”)
  • To consider and act upon two shareholder proposals, if properly presented at the Annual Meeting
  • To transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting or any adjournment or postponement thereof

The protests

In a press release asserting that hundred will protest the company’s tax issues (among other issues), Working Washington says:  

“While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and other corporate executives plan to use the shareholder meeting to celebrate their financial success, the 99% have something different planned. More than five hundred of us will rally under the Hammering Man — right outside the room where the meeting is taking place — to send a loud and clear fair share message: it's time for the giant retailer to share their success with the 99% by paying their fair share of taxes, treating workers with respect, and ending support for the extreme right-wing organization known as ALEC.”

Last month, Greenpeace jumped onto the “protest Amazon” wave by climbing the company’s building and unveiling a sign – “How green is your cloud” – calling attention to its recent study showing server farms, the basis for cloud computing, consume as much electricity as small cities.

Local media examines Amazon

The Seattle Times also has taken the online mega-retailer to task in its four-part series: “Behind the smile.”

After explaining that Amazon’s “approach to its customers is widely and deservedly hailed as among the best in the world” the Time’s Executive Editor David Boardman lists these faults facing the company’s reputation:

“In Seattle, the company's relative absence in philanthropic and civic causes had become a whispered buzz. In California and elsewhere, Amazon had fought new laws forcing it to collect sales taxes just as its brick-and-mortar competitors must. In Pennsylvania, a newspaper in Allentown had revealed brutal working conditions in an Amazon warehouse there. And across the country, a few independent book publishers were beginning to quietly push back against what they felt were unfair, strong-arm tactics in business dealings with Amazon.”

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