This excerpt taken from the EQR DEF 14A filed Apr 16, 2007.
SHAREHOLDER PROPOSAL TO IMPLEMENT A MAJORITY
The New England Carpenters Pension Fund, beneficial owner of 6,500 of the Companys common shares, has submitted the following proposal:
Resolved: That the shareholders of Equity Residential (Company) hereby request that the Board of Trustees initiate the appropriate process to amend the Companys governance documents (charter or bylaws) to provide that trustee nominees shall be elected by the affirmative vote of the majority of votes cast at an annual meeting of shareholders, with a plurality vote standard retained for contested trustee elections, that is, when the number of trustee nominees exceeds the number of board seats.
Supporting Statement: In order to provide shareholders a meaningful role in trustee elections, our Companys trustee election vote standard should be changed to a majority vote standard. A majority vote standard would require that a nominee receive a majority of the vote cast in order to be elected. The standard is particularly well-suited for the vast majority of director elections in which only board nominated candidates are on the ballot. We believe that a majority vote standard in board elections would establish a challenging vote standard for board nominees and improve the performance of individual trustees and entire boards. Our Company presently uses a plurality vote standard in all trustee elections. Under the plurality vote standard, a nominee for the board can be elected with as little as a single affirmative vote, even if a substantial majority of the votes cast are withheld from the nominee.
In response to strong shareholder support for a majority vote standard in director elections, an increasing number of companies, including Intel, Dell, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Home Depot, Gannett, Marathon Oil, and Supervalu, have adopted a majority vote standard in company by-laws. Additionally, these companies have adopted director resignation policies in their bylaws or corporate governance policies to address post-election issues related to the status of director nominees that fail to win election. Other companies have responded only partially to the call for change by simply adopting post-election director resignation policies that set procedures for addressing the status of director nominees that receive more withhold votes than for votes. At the time of the submission of this proposal, our Company and its Board had not taken either action.
We believe that critical first step in establishing a meaningful majority vote policy is the adoption of a majority vote standard in Company governance documents. Our Company needs to join the growing list of companies that have taken this action. With a majority vote standard in place, the board can then consider action on developing post election procedures to address the status of trustees that fail to win election. A combination of a majority vote standard and post-election trustee resignation policy would establish a meaningful right for shareholders to elect trustees, while reserving for the board an important post-election role in determining the continued status of an unelected trustee. We feel that this combination of the majority vote standard with a post-election policy represents a true majority vote standard.