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From the Picket Line to the Boardroom: Union Shareholder Activism

58 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2006  

Kirsten Anderson

Melbourne Law School

Ian Ramsay

Melbourne Law School - University of Melbourne

Date Written: May 2006

Abstract

Trade unions in a number of countries have recently begun to use corporate law to pursue employee interests. They are putting forward resolutions to be voted on at company annual general meetings (AGMs); lobbing for proxy votes through the distribution of statements in support of union sponsored AGM resolutions; posing questions to the board of directors at shareholder meetings in order to highlight employee interests; and, less commonly, requisitioning special meetings of shareholders. Unions appear to be utilising corporate law in order to forge a role in influencing company workplace practices, where this role has been greatly diminished because of changes to labour law. This article examines the recent practice of union shareholder activism in Australia through eight case studies in which unions have used corporate law to advance employee interests. The rationale, methods, effectiveness and perceived legitimacy of unions engaging in shareholder activism are evaluated.

Keywords: union shareholder activism, corporate governance, corporate law, trade unions

JEL Classification: G34, J51, J58, K22, M54

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Kirsten and Ramsay, Ian, From the Picket Line to the Boardroom: Union Shareholder Activism (May 2006). U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 255. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=914460 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.914460

Kirsten Anderson (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

Ian Ramsay

Melbourne Law School - University of Melbourne ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 5332 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.unimelb.edu.au/about/staff/ian-ramsay

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