Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today



Contests and

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


The Power of You

Shareholder activism is increasing

When asked about shareholder activism, Verizon spokesman Bob Varettoni said in a written statement: "We've experienced consistent shareholder interest over time, mostly involving issues that impact many large companies such as ours."

General Electric retirees have also been successful in changing company policy through the shareholder process. Kevin Mahar, 64, president of the Local 201 IUE-CWA Retiree Association near Boston, which represents communications workers, including General Electric retirees, drummed up support from other retirees and, in 1996, won what he called the largest single increase in GE pension plan history. A second cost-of-living increase took place in 2000, he says, and a third will go into effect this year. GE employees and retirees, as a bloc, are the largest single holder of GE stock. Mahar has attended the last 12 GE shareholder meetings and says he used to take on then-CEO and fellow Irishman Jack Welch: "I used a little Irish humor, and he used it back at me."

James McRitchie, a former ethics officer at a California state agency who 12 years ago started an Internet site for shareholder activists, says many retiree groups and individuals use the Internet, including blogs and online videos, to boost shareholder involvement. What's important in any campaign, he says, "is to bring issues to the attention of other shareholders."

In a sign of what's to come for investor activism, consider Eric Jackson's grassroots campaign, which thrives on new media. The Naples, Fla., management consultant, who owned barely $2,000 worth of Yahoo stock, was frustrated that the Internet portal had great potential for growth but "was going nowhere."

So he started a blog questioning Yahoo's leadership team. Then he unleashed "call-to-action" videos on YouTube, a popular online site, decrying Yahoo's poor performance and urging investors to vote against the CEO and six other board members.

Disgruntled investors with stock worth a startling $50 million got onboard, says Jackson, who attended the annual shareholders meeting in June. Chief executive Terry Semel, who'd been criticized for receiving one of the largest compensation packages in corporate America (reportedly worth more than $70 million in 2006) and the board members were reelected, but by relatively narrow margins. One week later, Semel resigned. Observers credited Jackson's online campaign and its outpouring of investor support.

"That was a good outcome," says Jackson, 35. "It's going to be more and more likely that individual investors will follow this path. You can't just say, 'I'm just one person. I only own 96 shares, therefore, who's going to listen to me?' As long as you have an argument to make and you can build a coalition, you can have an effect."

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.