Protests Outside Bank of America in Charlotte

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Invest in job creation, not fighting financial reform

On April 28 folks from all walks of life – including union members, people of faith, and the unemployed – demonstrated outside the Bank of America (BofA) shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC to demand Wall St banks stop fighting financial reform and do more to fix the job crisis they created in 2008.

BofA is one of the six mega-banks left standing after years of shady dealing caught up with the financial sector in Fall 2008 and triggered the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. These banks – BofA, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley – each control over 10% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

BofA received a $45 billion bailout in Fall 2008, and while it has paid that money back, the bank continues to take advantage of substantial support through zero interest loans at the Federal Reserve. Instead of increasing lending to small businesses and investing in job creation, BofA is using this money to fight financial reform and lavish absurd pay on executives, spending $145 billion in total compensation for 2009.

Stop the greed

NC State AFL-CIO President, James Andrews, spoke at the rally outside the shareholder meeting. “I am so proud to stand here with our coalition partners to say to Bank of America and other banks: ‘Stop the greed!’,” he said to the crowd of over a hundred protesters. “It is time for these banks like Bank of America…to invest in creating some of the jobs they destroyed.”

We have added several videos from the action, including remarks by Rev. Jesse Jackson, to our YouTube channel: Pictures of the action are in our Flickr photostream:

Crashing the party

MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer of the NC State AFL-CIO, was part of a delegation of protesters with proxies allowing them into the shareholders meeting. Once inside the meeting, McMillan introduced an AFL-CIO resolution on limiting CEO pay. Like most other shareholder resolutions offered at the meeting, our resolution was defeated. Read MaryBe McMillan’s statement on our proposal at the meeting.

Three autoworkers from UAW 3520 in Cleveland, NC – George Drexel, John Stewart, and Keith Fink – got up in the question and answer session of the meeting and asked bank executives how much money they were spending to defeat financial reform. (Although BofA supports the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, it continues to fight other essential reforms.) Executives gave a series of non-answers, but thanks to the Center for Responsive Politics, we know how much BofA spent lobbying in 2009: $3.6 million.