A report by Nick Mottern – Coordinator of KnowDrones.com, on the response of David M. Cote, Honeywell’s Chair and CEO, to a request that Honeywell stop supplying engines and other components for the MQ-9 Reaper drone and stop selling the Tarantula Hawk drone for military and surveillance use.
On Monday, April 28, I attended the annual shareholders meeting of Honeywell International and read the following:
Good Morning. My name is Nick Mottern, and I am here today to bring information to Honeywell International shareholders that they may not be aware of. Honeywell has laudable ethical standards, which include a stated determination to abide by law, and I think it is fair to say that Honeywell’s reputation and profitability depends to a significant degree on Honeywell living up to its ethical standards. In addition, Honeywell’s reputation and sales benefit from the company’s production of products such as its automobile refrigerant that has a lower global warming potential than carbon dioxide.
What you may not know is that Honeywell International is, in my opinion and that of many others, violating its own ethical standards in providing the engines, navigational, targeting and guidance equipment for the MQ-9 Reaper drone, the world’s foremost killer drone, a weapon that has been used to kill people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia with no regard to laws of due process, human rights law and accepted norms of ethical, moral behavior.
You should know that the Reaper drone and other surveillance drones, such as Honeywell’s T-Hawk are being used by the United States and the United Kingdom to violate privacy in many countries and to intimidate and repress in total, tens of thousands of people. Indeed drone surveillance in and of itself, amounts to occupation and a worldwide threat to privacy and rights of assembly and free speech.
Honeywell’s involvement in drone attacks and drone surveillance places the corporation in a situation similar to that during the Viet Nam War when there was a strong public reaction against Honeywell’s production of cluster bombs that were used against the Vietnamese people, who, like those being attacked by the Reaper, were extremely poor people of color who were relatively defenseless.
You should know that Mr. Cote received a letter expressing these concerns to which there has been no response. I would appreciate if Mr. Cote might respond to the request in the letter, that Honeywell International stop providing engines and other equipment for Reaper drones and disengage for all drone work, including production of the T-Hawk. Thank you.
David M. Cote, Honeywell CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors, seeming to be annoyed, responded with only the following: “We will continue to follow all laws.”
The meeting, held in a large, stark room at the corporation’s headquarters in Morristown, NJ, was attended by about 60 people. The tasks of the shareholders were to elect members of the board of directors, to approve an accountant for the firm and to approve pay levels for Honeywell’s top executives.
The shareholders also had the three resolutions before them for which the board of directors recommended disapproval.
The first was a resolution presented by a representative of the Teamsters Union that would have removed Mr. Cote as a member of the board of directors and made him subject to the board’s decisions. The union official also said that Mr. Cote’s $28 million a year salary in 2013 is excessive when compared with salaries of other CEOs with comparable responsibilities.
A representative of the AFL-CIO spoke on behalf of a resolution that would reduce Honeywell executive severance pay (Mr. Cote is entitled to about $73 million in severance) and a resolution that would require Honeywell to be more open about its political contributions.
The only evidence of good humor in Mr. Cote, or a desire to do anything except get out of the room as fast as possible came when a shareholder rose to say that, given the doubling of Honeywell’s sales over the last two years to $40 billion, he thought Mr. Cote is underpaid. “Take all the time you want,” Mr. Cote told him.
Within minutes it was announced that the shareholders had approved all the actions recommended to them by the board. Mr. Cote walked out quickly without chatting with anyone, all but four people followed, and the room was almost instantly empty. No spirit of meeting remained as none had been created. The meeting had lasted a total of 22 minutes.
As the room cleared, I was curious to see if anyone would come over to speak with me. I was rewarded when a man in his sixties, approached, shook my hand and thanked me for making my statement.
He said he had been a Honeywell investor for 20 years, and he had no idea that Honeywell is involved with drones. He said further that he thinks drone attacks are counter-productive, “a big mistake” that will end up hurting the United States. He said that I was speaking on behalf of the best interests of the United States. In 20 years, he said, we will regret what the U.S. is doing to develop drones.
It’s too bad, he said, that people speaking out against drone attacks don’t get any credit.
He said also that Honeywell has become “hostile” to investors since Mr. Cote took over five years ago. A small bit of evidence of this attitude, he said, was the fact that shareholders arriving at the door to the meeting room had available to them only coffee and tea sitting at one end of a long, white table cloth covered table, empty except the few shiny hot drink urns and carafes. There were no pastries, donuts, croissants or other such fare that is usually offered to guests.