U.S. Steel shareholders to elect directors annually

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U.S. Steel shareholders today approved a proposal to elect directors annually, joining an increasing number of companies adopting the practice at the urging of shareholder activists.

Stockholders also approved the company's pay practices at the 30-minute meeting, held at U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown.

President and CEO Mario Longhi's short remarks shed no new light on the progress of the Carnegie Way, an ambitious efficiency and cost-cutting initiative launched last year. He said more details will be released today after the market closes, when the company reports first-quarter results. The progress also will be discussed Wednesday morning during a conference call with analysts and investors, Mr. Longhi said.

During a question-and-answer session, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research asked the company to adopt a policy of not punishing employees for outside political activity.

"Somebody's got to turn the tide," Justin Danhof, the organization's general counsel, told U.S. Steel general counsel Suzanne Rich Folsom after the meeting.

The proposal was sparked by the resignation of Mozilla co-founder and CEO Brendan Eich after there were protests over his $1,000 contribution to a 2008 campaign in support of a proposal to ban same-sex marriages in California.

"We feel people's First Amendment rights in the workplace need to be protected," Mr. Danhof said.

The organization has offered the suggestion to 13 or 14 companies and will present it later this week at shareholder meetings for Marathon Oil, Duke Energy and Humana, he said.

Ms. Folsom told Mr. Danhof the company is reviewing its code of conduct and will consider the suggestion.

Shortly after 11 a.m., U.S. Steel shares were trading at $26.07, up 34 cents. Through the close of the market Monday, the shares were down 13 percent this year.

Len Boselovic: 412-263-1941 or lboselovic@post-gazette.com

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