cb31450 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 25 14:08:14 MDT 2011
At the end of the UAW's three-day bargaining convention in Detroit,
union President Bob King led more than 100 members into the Bank of
America branch in downtown Detroit and shut down its operations for
about 30 minutes.
Afterward, the group joined hundreds more UAW members at the corner of
Griswold and Congress streets in downtown Detroit and continued the
protest. King accused the bank of not paying taxes in 2009, overpaying
its executives and opposing legislation such as credit card reform and
the Foreclosure Prevention Act.
"Anything that would help the middle class, Bank of America opposed,"
King said. "When workers are struggling to pay child care and feed
their families, Bank of America in 2010 made about $17.5 billion from
credit card and ATM fees."
Bank of America spokeswoman Diane Wagner said Bank of America paid
more than $40 billion in taxes from 2000 to 2009. However, she was
unable to say how much the bank paid in taxes in 2009. Generally,
companies don't pay taxes unless they earn a profit.
Wagner also said Bank of America repaid the $45 billion it received in
federal stimulus dollars as well as an additional $2.5 billion in
dividends. And, in 2009, Bank of America's outgoing CEO received no
pay under an agreement with the government.
On Wednesday, Bank of America announced it would donate and refurbish
10 vacant homes in Detroit.
"Bank of America takes its role as a corporate citizen very seriously
and pays taxes in accordance with all applicable laws and
regulations," she said.
King said the protest against Bank of America and corporate tax breaks
is connected to the battle for collective bargaining rights and the
need to broaden the union's organizing efforts.
"Banks get bailed out, people get sold out," King chanted as the crowd
As the UAW members rallied, they wore red T-shirts in support of the
public union members in Wisconsin who have been protesting for weeks
as Republican Gov. Scott Walker has worked to eliminate their
collective bargaining rights.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of U.S.
workers in a union fell to 11.9% in 2010, down from 12.3% the year
before. In 1983, more than 20% of U.S. workers belonged to unions.
While the UAW was founded in the 1930s to represent automotive
workers, it now represents workers in many industries and its largest
unit in Lansing represents 22,000 mostly state government workers.
According to the Bureau of Labor, the union membership rate for public
unions is 36.2% compared with just 6.9% for private sector workers.
The UAW also says that Michigan's public unions are under attack after
Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation this month that gives emergency
financial managers broad authority to terminate employee union
contracts and nullify elected boards and councils. Snyder said the
powers should only be used as a last resort by emergency financial
managers appointed to oversee financially distressed municipalities
and school districts.
During the UAW's closing event on Thursday, actor and activist Danny
Glover told members that the members of public unions who have been
demonstrating are creating a new vision for labor rights in America.
"We must unite under this new vision and stand up and fight and hold
on," he said.
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