The UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust was designed to be so big, with so many members, that it would have influence with the health care community when it negotiated rates.
With 750,000 Detroit Three retirees and $50 billion to $60 billion in assets, the trust wields mighty clout.
What was not foreseen, however, or at least publicly discussed, was how it would evolve into an activist shareholder capable of pressuring the likes of Amgen, McDonald’s, Walmart and Walgreens.
Over the last three years, the Trust, also known as a VEBA, has fought for greater transparency when it comes to political donations, lobbying and the pricing of expensive drugs and medical treatments, among other issues.
It has led at least six corporate governance initiatives including pushing for more transparent lobbying activity, stricter executive compensation policies and pushing for small investors to have more of a say in the nomination of directors.