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Statement On Behalf Of
The New York City Pension Systems
STRIDE RITE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Lexington, MA, April 11, 2002
Mr. Chairman, fellow shareholders, my name is Jerry Gabert, I am the Treasurer of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and I am pleased to be here today on behalf of the New York City Comptroller, William Thompson, and the New York City pension systems to present the funds' resolution on global human rights standards.
Over the last several years, reports of human rights abuses in the overseas subsidiaries and suppliers of some U.S.-based corporations have led to an increased public awareness of the problems of child labor, "sweatshop" conditions, and the denial of labor rights in U.S. corporate overseas operations. Human rights violations in these operations have, in many cases, lead to negative publicity, public protests, and the loss of consumer confidence—all of which can have a negative impact on shareholder value.
The New York City pension funds, holders of over 208,000 shares, have submitted a proposal which calls on Stride Rite to commit to the implementation of a code of conduct based on the core labor standards promulgated by the United Nations' International Labor Organization and to commit to a program of outside, independent monitoring of our company's compliance with these standards.
Stride Rite's stated commitment to respect human rights in its overseas operations, is a welcome first step. However, experience has shown that self-monitored corporate codes of conduct have not been adequately enforced, and have resulted in little or no substantive change. We firmly believe that on-site, independent monitoring of compliance is essential if this corporate code of conduct commitment is to have credibility with the public. We are asking Stride Rite to commit itself to such a program and to seek to engage overseas vendor partners who are likewise committed.
Therefore, on behalf of the New York City pension systems, I herby submit the resolution on global labor human rights standards, which are to be found in your proxy materials. Thank you.