Up Close And Personal With BRK: Sweating The Sweatshops

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Berkshire Hathaway shareholder Curtis Joe Walker was back at the jamboree again this year, bringing Warren Buffett straight to you. Here are his stories.
The good news is that the Klamath River folks from the last couple years are happy and they might be getting their way soon, with the removal of dams from the area and the restoration of the river. If this happens and the fisheries that collapsed last year are able to re-populate, this will be an important victory for them.
However, a new concern arose this year with the introduction of a shareholder proposal for the introduction of a Sustainability Report. In essence, what the proposal aims to achieve is to add transparency to the company's activities in a way that will keep shareholders informed in a proactive way. This year the primary concern was regarding sweatshops, which given the salaries of Berkshire directors (currently $900 per year) is not surprising.


The issue at hand specifically related to Russell, an athletic wear company owned by Fruit of the Loom and their practices in Honduras. Workers got the shaft, so FotL hired an auditor and worked with the unions to fix the problems until the recession hit, when they decided to close the plant.
As expected the resolution did not pass, though 49251 votes were cast in favor. The majority of votes were against the measure, as recommended by the CEO, but introducing it allowed for greater exposure of the protester's cause and gave them an audience with a hugely influential and wealthy man. It's unlikely to be the last protest, but at least they aren't derailing the Q&A sessions anymore.
--Curtis Joe Walker, a Berkshire shareholder

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