Peabody Energy Holds Shareholder Meeting in Wyoming: Trying to Escape St. Louis Protests?
If the company held its meeting in St. Louis as expected -- last year it was in the renamed Peabody Opera House -- MORE and labor unions would have targeted the event to call attention to what activists argue are unfair tax breaks for a fossil fuel company contributing to climate change. Recent St. Louis protests, with strong union support, have focused on labor practices and a dispute over health care. They are often marked by frequent arrests.
And the groups weren't going to just protest outside the meeting. Klagsburn says that 40 different St. Louis residents have actually bought shares in Peabody so that they have a right to attend these meetings and speak out. They showed up last year and had conflicts with the company, she says.
"This is the one day...that corporations have to listen to their shareholders," she says. "It's hard to pass up."
Will St. Louisans trek to Wyoming?
"I don't think we've decided that yet," Klagsburn says. "We still have concerns we definitely want to bring to their ears...but it's sixteen hours away."
Here's the full statement from Peabody.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2013
PEABODY ENERGY TO HOLD ANNUAL MEETING IN WYOMING
ST. LOUIS, March 20 - Peabody Energy is pleased to announce that the company is holding its annual meeting in Gillette, Wyo., in recognition of Peabody's leading position in coal sales and reserves in the Southern Powder River Basin. The meeting location also allows Peabody to showcase its North Antelope Rochelle Mine, the world's largest and productive coal mine.
The company periodically holds meetings of its board of directors in locations where Peabody has operations. This location allows Peabody to highlight the importance of America's largest coal region, which is one of the great energy centers of the world.
Peabody Energy is the world's largest private-sector coal company and a global leader in sustainable mining and clean coal solutions. The company serves metallurgical and thermal coal customers in more than 25 countries on six continents. For further information, go to PeabodyEnergy.com and CoalCanDoThat.com.
And the full release from MORE.
For First Time in History, Peabody Coal to Hold Shareholder's Meeting Outside of St. Louis
With Local Opposition Growing, Peabody Moves Meeting to Avoid Scrutiny
ST. LOUIS - This year, for the first time since the company went public in 2002, Peabody Coal will hold its Annual Shareholder's Meeting in Gillette, Wyoming instead of its hometown of St. Louis. In 2012, the meeting was held at the newly rebranded Peabody Opera House, formerly the Kiel Opera House. Activists from Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) and labor unions targeted Peabody's meeting to call out the corporation's failure to pay federal, state and local taxes. Forty concerned St. Louisans bought shares of the company and attempted to enter the meeting to convey their concerns. While about twenty were able to get in, Peabody blocked many from entering, despite court orders. Those who did enter the meeting publicly questioned Peabody executives about the company's failure to pay taxes.
"Peabody executives are fleeing St. Louis to avoid the legitimate concerns of their local shareholders. It is ironic that Peabody has spent millions of dollars pasting its name all over St. Louis, but is scared to have its meeting here. Opposition to Peabody is increasing. From the pending SEC investigation over Peabody's Prairie State coal plant, to UMWA retirees fighting for their pensions and healthcare, to indigenous communities from Black Mesa, AZ confronting Peabody over the forcible relocation of indigenous people, it is clear that Peabody's attempts to hide its everyday business of destroying the climate and communities all over the world have failed," said Molly Gott, an organizer with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE).
MORE is engaged in a sustained campaign against Peabody Coal's business practices. In addition to targeting the shareholder's meeting in 2012, MORE organized a protest outside of Peabody in January 2013, focusing on the company's forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi in Black Mesa, AZ; 12 were arrested. MORE and other St. Louis groups are currently collecting signatures for the Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative which would bar the city of St. Louis from giving public money to fossil fuel producers and instead encourage investment in renewable energy and sustainability initiatives.