US pension fund Calpers (The California Public Employees' Retirement System) has announced that it will withhold votes for the re-election of Apple's entire board of directors in protest at the company's failure to implement a shareholder-approved proposal to treat stock options as an expense.
Calpers is withholding votes for Apple board members William Campbell, Millard Drexler, former US Vice President Al Gore, Jobs, Arthur Levinson and Jerome York, all of whom are standing for re-election.
It is not only Apple's failure to implement a shareholder-approved proposal to treat stock options as an expense that has angered Calpers. The organization has also criticized Apple's board for authorizing Apple's auditor, KPMG LLP, to perform nonauditing, or consulting services, for the maker of Macintosh computers and the iPod digital music players.
Calpers also noted that York, chairman of the audit committee, is the former chairman, president and chief executive of MicroWarehouse, a major reseller and a buyer of Apple's wares.
The pension fund has also questioned Apple director William Campbell’s allegedly excessive executive pay. A criticism echoed by the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labour – Congress of Industrial Organizations), which has also said it is urging shareholders to withhold votes from Apple director William Campbell to protest excessive executive pay.
Apple isn’t the only company to experience Calpers' wrath. The pension fund is also withholding votes for the re-election of directors at other companies including American Express, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, and Lexmark.
Calpers also said it would withhold its votes from Citicorp Chairman Sanford Weill and billionaire investor and Coca-Cola director Warren Buffett. It even had a part to play in the March shareholder vote that stripped the chairman title from Disney chief executive Michael Eisner.
According to Union-Tribune and Dow Jones, Calpers "vote no" campaign comes as the Securities and Exchange Commission considers a new rule to make it easier for large shareholders to nominate their own directors. Under the proposal, a 35 per cent vote to withhold approval of a director would trigger a process to give a large investor – or group of shareholders – the right to put a director candidate on a company's proxy. If approved in its current form, the proposal would cover this season's elections.