Bank of America is spending like a drunken sailor, but not on anything that will serve as a life raft for our drowning economy. The largest bank in the US received a whopping $25 billion in bailout funds from our government, but has invested $7 billion in an overseas bank and dropped another $10 million on DC lobbyists.
It gets much much worse. The company employs 247,000 workers, but won't foot the bill for their healthcare, worth an estimated $50 million that's coming out of public funds (on top of the bailout). And since the government wrote Bank of America a $25 billion check, the company announced plans to layoff 35,000 workers over the next three years -- a record for the financial industry. These are workers whose median salary was only about $23,000 to begin with. Meanwhile, the company is still flying their executives around on a fleet of nine corporate jets worth over $200 million alone.
To say nothing of Bank of America's predatory lending practices, the fact that they own Countrywide, the company responsible for the subprime crisis, or that they are dead set against federal legislation that would help mortgage borrowers avoid foreclosure. And oh yeah, the Wall Street Journal just reported the Treasury is planning to give Bank of America billions more!
With such flagrant corporate greed, it's no wonder the SEIU is up in arms. My only question is, why aren't the rest of us?
In a national day of action today, the SEIU took on Bank of America at their headquarters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Charlotte. Mac D'Alessandro, the SEIU's political director for the New England area, told me that about 100 people braved the bitter cold on Boston's Federal Street to pass out flyers to employees and passersby, who, for the first time D'Alessandro could recall, eagerly accepted them. When the group attempted to present Bank of America with a giant STOP PAYMENT check, however, they were cordoned off by police. "The biggest shock though," said D'Alessandro, "was that no one from corporate bothered to come down and accept the check."
Bank of America might have bounced the SEIU's novelty check today, but the SEIU certainly won't be thwarted. Today's action was part of a much broader campaign to mobilize activists around the country and pressure Bank of America to use its bailout billions properly. And you can join by telling Bank of America to help its workers and fix the economy or kindly give its bailout back.