In Completely Unsurprising News, Protesters Protest Exxon Mobil Shareholders Meeting

Categories: Biz

ExxonProtest2.jpg
The 1-percenters seem to have taken a page from the Occupy playbook.
There are many reasons lots of folks hate Exxon Mobil: It makes about as much profit in 35 seconds as the average U.S. household makes in a year; it gets humongous tax breaks from the U.S. government; it bankrolled anti-climate change "research" that set debate on the issue back decades; it charges painful prices for gas; and it purportedly discriminates against gay and lesbian employees. Not to mention that it's rolling, probably naked, in mountains of cash.

All of which is to say that when Exxon Mobil's shareholders have their annual meeting, as they are doing at this moment at the Meyerson, there will be protests. For many reasons.

This year brought maybe three dozen activists of various stripes hold signs and chant slogans across Flora Street in the general direction of the business types who occasionally paused in their elbow-rubbing to gaze through the lobby glass and across the metal concert barricades on the gathering.

Last year, some of the shareholders emerged to argue with the protestors, said Mike Campbell, with Rising Tide North Texas. No such encounters this year, just a collection of faux-counter protestors ("Tax cuts for the wealthy! Keep our pockets healthy!") in tail coats and top hats swilling Champagne that, judging from the impassiveness of the dozen or so police officers (on Segway, bike, and in squad car) and the clarity and non-effervescence of the liquid, was more likely water.

Sheyrl Webster, a 35-year Exxon employee who works for a refinery in Baytown, drove up to call for a long-delayed pay increase for clerical workers like herself and the reinstatement of recently jettisoned safety training programs ("If your training sucks, your refinery will blow up," her sign read.)

Shannon Beebe, not of Baytown, was holding a sign for Code Pink "a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement," according to its website.

"For me, I'm concerned about the environment and how Exxon likes to destroy it and rape the land and the people on it," she said.

Then there were the anti-frackers (one sign, which was leaning against a planter, showed Mr. Kool-Aid being filled from a faucet, flames shooting skyward), Occupy Dallas, MoveOn.org, and members of the United Steelworkers union, some of whom stepped inside the shareholder's meeting.

The most targeted message came from GetEQUAL, an LGBT-rights group that, though I only saw one guy when I arrived who was wearing their T-shirt, was organizing against what it claims are discriminatory practices against gay and lesbian employees.

Year after year, ExxonMobil remains the only Fortune 10 company that refuses to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the corporation's leadership has made it clear that it will only institute such policies if required by federal law. ExxonMobil's Vice President of Investor Relations and Secretary David Rosenthal, in a letter to GetEQUAL following a protest at the 2010 shareholder meeting, stated, "Where we operate in countries in which the national laws require specific language regarding nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity be included in policies, we have amended our policies as appropriate."

Word was that New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli would introduce a shareholder resolution to the effect that Exxon Mobil shouldn't fire or discriminate against employees because of gender or sexual orientation.

For a report on how the proposal does (or, more specifically, how overwhelmingly it gets voted down), David Taffet with the Dallas Voice had the foresight to get press credentials.

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SHUT DOWN EXXON
SHUT DOWN EXXON

If Exxon can do no better than they do with stuff like their oil spills, their high gas prices, their inhumane social policies, their clear bias for the rich and the super rich, they need to shut it down and move on.  Big oil takes far too much from the people to provide the goods that the bring. The only way I'll buy a drop of Exxon gas is that they have to be the only gas station available and that's been my policy for five or six years.  I'm sure I have taken thousands of dollars from them with this policy and I will continue to take thousands of dollars from them in this way.  I just wish someone would tell me where the picket line is and when it will be there.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 Exxon has a better record than you let on.  They don't set the price of oil.  Rex Tillerson, Exxon's CEO has said on the record that gas should be $80/barrel.  Finally, Exxon has sold all their gas stations, so you miss on yet another account.  Exxon is a big corporation, they do important work. 

SHUT DOWN EXXON
SHUT DOWN EXXON

Well of course someone has to speak up for the devil, might as well be you....  

If they don't  set the price of oil, they sure don't have very much to say toward lowering the price.  All they seem to care about is making money from their products. And they sure seem to always do a good job of making money from the way things usually work.  If Tillerson is so pissed off about the price of oil, why don't we hear more about this?  If I was in his position, I'd be making this plain and clear at every opportunity. He was probably just trying to cover his own butt.  And if Exxon has sold all their gas stations, why do they have their name on so many of them?   Could they still be making money from the stations?   If they were not getting money from gas stations, they wouldn't have their name on the signs.  The Exxon name is not exactly an honorable brand and anyone with any ethical concern would not want to be associated with it if they were informed -unless they had no choice.  Yeah Exxon is  big and important.  They could use their size and importance to do so many good things besides rip off the people of this country and the world but they usually don't.  Therefore, whenever possible I will continue to refuse to do business with anything associated with Exxon.  They will not get one of my red pennys. 

Downtownworker
Downtownworker

Out of curiosity, does the writer of this story use the word "purportedly" because he does not think ExxonMobil discriminates against gay and lesbian employees? They do not provide health benefits to same-sex couples except those grandfathered before the merger of Exxon and Mobil. That is pretty clear discrimination to me and this purported writer should point that out in his story.

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

I love it ! Protesters protesting big oil using signs and markers probably wearing shoes and maybe even driving a car with tires and a gas tank too, Ill bet they eat food and use their light bulbs in their house and might even like Ziplocks, Glad trash bags, and just about every other common product our hands touch everyday, and not to mention the packaging.  

Where the hell do they think this stuff comes from ?   

This corporations as public citizens is really a recent phenomenon, and really it makes me laugh, corporations exist to produce profit it is their fiduciary responsibility to their owners (stockholders).

Sure they rape the earth and displace poor people, but mostly thats in the 3rd world these days, since most of our resources are gone we can become moral now 

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

I betcha they even breathe air, too! Dagnamit! Now i'm all pissed off.

Anon
Anon

so the fact that participation in society requires their products (a phenomenon they have lobbied to enshrine) no one is allowed to protest their corporate actions? as for whether corporations are public citizens, their free speech and many other rights are based on the fact that they are. they can't have it both ways. and you are right - they exist to produce profit while sparing capital holders from the liability of actually being responsible for the actions that produce said profits. legally, they exist solely at the will of the people, whose government uses its power to enforce their contracts, so let's stop pretending otherwise.

claytonauger
claytonauger

Like Tea Partiers calling for the government to get out of their Medicare? 

Deltaisgood
Deltaisgood

I think a lot a tea partiers would do with less to lower the national debt. People who protest XOM or Wall Street just want handouts. That is fine but you eventually run out of sources to soak.

Eyes Wide Open
Eyes Wide Open

How many jobs does this private, tax paying company provide?  Isn't that more than Obama?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

They're publicly traded, genius. Big government means more jobs too. Blew your mind, didn't I?

Deltaisgood
Deltaisgood

Yea, big government is working real well for Greece and the rest of Europe just ruled the day for the Soviets.

Deltaisgood
Deltaisgood

I wish that XOM would please show people that their stock performance is sound but they are NOT rolling in cash. I grew up an orphan with nothing for me and my siblings but some stock. People think they are stealing mountains of gold! And if we just taxed the rich, everything would be fine. Do the math!. 

scottindallas
scottindallas

Actually, if we raised the tax rate, it would likely lower Exxon's exposure.  Exxon has lot's of capital, depreciation on that capital, and lot's of deductions.  You should save your anger for finance, professionals, lobbyists, corporate execs and media stars; these capital lite producers benefit from low tax rates, are a tax on the economy, and don't create jobs like capital intensive producers like Exxon and GM. 

Deltaisgood
Deltaisgood

OK. ScottinDallas but they want to END XOM's deductions. Everyone from Bill O'Reilly to Representative Watters want to limit overseas sales or just nationalize them. I don't think that is what you are talking about. You are referring to  personal or subS rates in the glamour folks. On that score, check out the "Buffet Rule" as he finds his taxes from corps (cap gains) way too low. The effective tax on earned income is higher "for his secretary". All I want is some idea conveyed that XOM and the rest are possessions of shareholders. If anyone looks, they have not been exactly burning up the track in the long view. They have spurts of income due to the vagaries of commodity prices and demand. We are moving down now and the stock price is crashing. I said crashing. But let a war with Iran commence. Gas goes to $9 temporarily and XOM's price shoots to $100+. Then the crying starts. They aren't paying attention when oil is at $60 and people ate getting 4% returns over  decades.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

Everyone loves to kick the guy at the top. Just look at two numbers from their 2011 income statement.  Taxes paid - Over $31 BillionNet Income - Over $42 Billion after taxes, which is less than 1% of revenue.  Walmart brings about 24% of sales to the bottom line.Compare EM to every other oil company and see if their percents aren't about the same.  It's a business that has a lot of big numbers that runs on small margins.Let the bashing begin.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

Yeah, why are they always kicking the guys on the top? Why don't they start kicking some homeless people instead. The poor have got it too easy....with their cardboard box houses, lower life expectancies, higher percentage of people incarcerated and all. It's just not fair that they pick on the rich fellas, I mean, job creators!

scottindallas
scottindallas

Save your disdain for the capital lite producers, lobbyists, finance, professionals, media stars and corporate execs--they hire no one.   Raise tax rates and you reduce their share of the economy and encourage capital intensive production. 

Marks Powers
Marks Powers

Appears you are only talking about income tax paid.  Do not forget about oil/gas production severance taxes (4.6% in Texas, and similar % in most other US states) and royalty interest property taxes are paid where the well is located.

Then the oil is refined into gasoline, and what happens then...?  More taxes.  US Government gets 18 cents per gallon of gas sold and the states tack on an average of $.45 per gallon of gas sold.  http://www.gaspricewatch.com/w...

The all in tax rate for oil/gasoline is very high indeed.  

And this is not to say I am opposed to such a high tax rate, as a high oil/gasoline price discourages consumption.  And oil imports comprise a large part of the US Trade Deficit, to the tune of $400 Billion per year.

But US taxpayers have nothing to complain about in regard to Exxon and other oil & gas companies not paying enough tax, they in fact pay more than their fair share in taxes, in my opinion.  And yes, I would love to see the end of subsidies to oil and gas companies and all forms of crony capitalism.  Most of these subsidies go to companies with the best lobbyists rather than to the small independents.

Anon
Anon

very little of that tax was paid in the US though. not bashing the company, just pointing out that we are not the primary beneficiary of all those taxes. 

scottindallas
scottindallas

no, they pay lots of tax here, and are among the highest payers as a % of income.  Low taxes hit these capital intensive producer harder than capital lite producers.

Anon
Anon

their income statement detail disagrees - they pay a tiny fraction of their net income as US taxes.

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