Activists Push Proposals at Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern to Provide Paid Sick Leave 

On Tuesday, a pair of investment funds proposed shareholder resolutions at freight rail giants Union Pacific (US:UP) and Norfolk Southern (US:NSC) that would provide covered workers paid sick leave.

According to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a group of 300 socially focused funds, Marvin Owens of Impact Shares, which filed the proposal at Norfolk Southern, said, “We believe paid sick leave (PSL) to be essential to protecting and maintaining one of a company’s – and the economy’s – most important assets: workers. Companies should not see PSL as an expense, but as a prudent investment – an insurance policy that will promote a strong workforce and, by extension, a healthy economy.”

The lack of paid sick leave in the existing contract was a central sticking point to an agreement. Ultimately the sides could not agree on a contract, and Congress passed a law enforcing the current contract. A separate bill that would have required sick time failed in the Senate.

“When you consider how essential these workers are to the U.S. economy and its supply chain – helping move nearly 40% of the country’s freight including critical commodities – asking carriers to provide basic protections seems a more than reasonable request,” said Kate Monahan of Trillium Asset Management, which filed the proposal at Union Pacific Corp.

According to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, U.S. freight railroads cut about a third of their workforce over the past six years. Now they are having trouble keeping workers.

Trillium’s Monahan said the proposal at Union Pacific and said this was a “more than a reasonable request. As shareholders, we are asking management to reprioritize and take the longer-term view that safeguarding the health and safety of their workers will better position them for the future.”

Shareholders could vote on the resolutions this spring.

The Interfaith Center said similar proposals are likely to be filed at CSX (US:CSX) and at BNSF’s parent company of Berkshire Hathaway (US:BRK.A) (US:BRK.B), but they haven’t been submitted yet.

The ICCR represents 300 members with over $4 trillion in assets. Its goal is to promote social change in companies.

This article originally appeared on Fintel

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