October 04, 2019

Senator Warren Asks CEOs to Honor Their Commitments to 'Promote an Economy that Serves all Americans'

"Commitments are hollow if they're not accompanied by tangible action that provides real benefits to workers and other stakeholders"

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent letters to the CEOs of Amazon, Walmart, United Airlines, General Motors Company, JPMorgan Chase, BP, AT&T, Comcast, Cigna, and Union Pacific. These ten CEOs are among 181 CEOs who recently signed a pledge on behalf of their companies to follow Business Roundtable's (BRT) new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, and "commit to deliver value to all" stakeholders, including workers, "for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country." The letters ask for tangible steps each CEO plans to take to implement the BRT principles and also asks whether each CEO will take steps laid out in the Accountable Capitalism Act, which Senator Warren and House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) announced today that they would reintroduce later this month.

For most of our country's history, American corporations balanced their responsibilities to all of their stakeholders -- employees, shareholders, communities -- in corporate decisions. It worked: profits went up, productivity went up, wages went up, and America built a thriving middle class. However, in the 1980s a new idea quickly took hold: American corporations should focus only on maximizing returns to their shareholders. That had a seismic impact on the American economy. Over the last decade, big American companies dedicated 93% of earnings to shareholders, redirecting trillions of dollars that could have gone to workers or long-term investments. The result: booming corporate profits and rising worker productivity have not led to rising wages.

While Senator Warren is encouraged that BRT acknowledged the harm that this trend inflicts on the economy and that the CEOs, on behalf of their companies, have pledged to take steps to reverse it, Senator Warren added that, "commitments are hollow if they're not accompanied by tangible action that provides real benefits to workers and other stakeholders."

"If you, and the other 181 corporate executives who signed the BRT's new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, plan to live up to the promises you made, I expect that you will endorse and wholeheartedly support the reforms laid out in the Accountable Capitalism Act to meet the principles you endorse," wrote Senator Warren to each of the ten CEOs.
Senator Warren asked each CEO to respond to her letter no later than October 25, 2019, regarding their intention to make good on their commitments.

Senator Warren first introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act in August 2018 to reverse the harmful corporate trend over the last thirty years that have produced record corporate profits for American companies but stagnant wages for American workers. Later in 2018, her legislation gained momentum in the U.S. House of Representatives as Rep. Luján, then-incoming Assistant Democratic Leader; Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.); Representative Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.); and Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced companion legislation. Earlier today, she and Assistant Speaker Luján announced the legislation will be reintroduced in the coming weeks.