Group calls protest a 'win' at Amazon shareholders meeting

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 24, 2012 at 7:05 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 6:21 AM

Protesters who targeted the Amazon shareholders' meeting in downtown Seattle Thursday said they were pleased with the company's decision to end ties with a conservative lobby group.

The shareholders' meeting was at the Seattle Art Museum, and countered by a protest organized by a group called "Working Washington."

About 150 protesters participated, carrying signs and chanting, "We are the 99 percent." Some protesters bought a single share of Amazon stock just to gain access to the meeting.

"I have a legal right to be in the meeting," said protest organizer David Ludden. "This is the way we can get in and talk to the shareholders and appeal to their conscious."

In addition to protesting the company's tax policies, labor practices and warehouse conditions, protesters focused on Amazon's connection to the American Legislative Exchange Council, calling the group anti-union.

"Successful companies need to pay their fair share of taxes, need to treat all their workers with respect, and need to stop supporting groups like ALEC," said protester Sage Wilson.

Inside the meeting, Amazon executives announced they would no longer support ALEC.

Some shareholders said the protest missed the real issue.

"[Amazon is] putting people to work, I think we should be focusing on the economy," said shareholder Diane Daggat.

Executives have not responded to a request for comment, but shareholders said CEO Jeff Bezos was receptive to shareholder concerns, and said it is safer to work in an Amazon warehouse than a department store.

This week, "Working Washington" shined a lighted messaged on the museum that read, "See you Thursday a.m. #99," and "respect workers."

Recently, protesters also rallied outside Amazon's South Lake Union property. The company responded with signs warning protesters they could be charged with criminal trespass.

Seattle Police stationed officers outside the museum early Thursday in preparation. There were no disturbances between protesters and police.

KING 5's Lindsay Chamberlain, Natasha Ryan and Jake Whittenberg contributed to this report.

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