Reposted from The Chevron Pit
Chevron's decision to ask the SEC to allow it to dropkick shareholder resolutions calling for the duties of Chairman and CEO to be split – essentially demoting current Chair and CEO John Watson – has boxed the oil giant into a public relations defeat.
It's a lose-lose proposition for the multi-national corporation.
The shareholders are concerned about the way Watson and other Chevron executives have handled the $19 billion judgment against the company for massive oil contamination in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Watson and his 2,000 lawyers and legal assistants are spending hundreds of millions of dollars working on a legal attack to stop enforcement of the judgment.
The contamination is obvious. Everyone agrees Chevron's predecessor Texaco put it there. The people suffering are impoverished indigenous tribes and farmers who brought the original lawsuit 20 years ago. As the years have passed, Chevron has suffered from negative publicity casting it as an oil company concerned only about profits.
A growing number of shareholders are saying enough is enough.
Instead of finding a way out of the environmental nightmare, Chevron digs itself deeper into a hole with its SEC request to trounce on its shareholders, by nixing their resolutions and even subpoenaing them in its legal battles.
David Baker in today's San Francisco Chronicle describes the situation, and it's clear from his article that if the SEC rules in Chevron's favor, it will make the company look like the corporate thug that it is. Plus, it won't stop the shareholders from protesting at their annual meeting.
And, if the SEC doesn't, then the shareholders can once again introduce their resolutions and, likely, increase their vote tally, as they have done year after year.
Smart move, Chevron.