Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Israel activists debate at TIAA-CREF annual meeting

Charlotte hosted an impromptu debate on Middle East politics Tuesday at investment giant TIAA-CREF's annual meeting.

A few dozen activists, evenly split on both sides of the issue, spent much of the question-and-answer period at the meeting to make statements on whether the company should make investments in companies that do business in Israel. TIAA-CREF manages more than $500 billion in retirement accounts and other assets.

Activist group We Divest sent several representatives to target the company for investments in companies like Caterpillar and Motorola, which it says "profit from the Israeli occupation" of Palestine, according to its website.

Another organization, Israel advocate Stand With Us, also sent several people to the meeting to thank TIAA-CREF for not divesting. They said their opponents views were based on misinformation.
It's not uncommon for niche issues to dominate an annual meeting. Bank of America's annual meetings held in Charlotte tend to draw dozens of activists who are opposed to the bank's financing of coal projects.

For its part, TIAA-CREF is staying neutral on the issue. "It's not an issue we're engaged in," spokesman John McCool told the Observer.

TIAA-CREF is based in New York, but Charlotte is home to its largest office. Of about 8,000 employees companywide, about a third are in Charlotte -- including portfolio managers, back office workers and call center workers.

The company tends to rotate its annual meetings between New York and Charlotte. One group had pledged to protest on another topic -- TIAA-CREF investments in health insurance companies -- but no demonstration occurred outside. Security officers were on hand to shoo unwanted visitors off the premises. One person from the group, however, made it into the meeting and made a statement on divestment from the industry.

As for the actual business of the meeting, there wasn't much. All of the directors were re-elected, and its auditing firm was approved with a 94 percent vote.


Anonymous said...

"their opponents views were based on disinformation."

You mean Israel isn't occupying Palestine? Wow what dopes.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they intended to say " dissed information" else the word might have been misinformation,,,,, sarcasm off