A Thousand Philly Marchers Tell BofA: It’s Time to Pay
More than a 1,000 Pennsylvania union members, laid-off workers and community allies rallied outside a downtown Philadelphia Bank America office, hundreds streamed through the bank lobby along with a delegation carrying a $145 billion check. Shouting, “No jobs, no future,” they demanded BofA endorse the check and help finance creation of the 11 million jobs Wall Street gambled away.
After all: Wall Street’s Big Six-Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wachovia-Wells Fargo-received $145 billion taxpayer bailout funds.
Kelle Sallard, an unemployed Verizon worker and member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) member from Verizon, told the crowd she lost her medical benefits but doesn’t qualify for free health care.
While the CEO of Verizon makes 18 million and gets lifetime free health care, I lost my job at Verizon, lost my benefits and make too much on unemployment to qualify for free health care. How is that fair?
Pennsylvania State AFL-CIO Bill George put it bluntly:
It’s time to get ours back. The banks got theirs. It’s revolution time. It’s the only thing they understand.
The Philadelphia action-in which members from all area unions took part-was one of more than 200 “Good Jobs Now, Make Wall Street Pay” actions taking place through March 25. The rallies and marches will demand that the Big Six Wall Street banks:
- Pay their fair share to restore the jobs their actions destroyed.
- Stop their fight and multi-million dollar lobbying blitz to kill financial reform.
- Start lending to communities, small businesses and others starved for credit.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the crowd that Big Banks and Wall Street speculators “Played Russian roulette with our economy,”
and while Wall Street cashed in, they left Main Street holding the bag. They peddled meaningless junk-derivatives, credit default swaps, overpriced mortgages-and none of it was real. None of it created a job or gave a loan to small business.
Pat Gillespie, business manager of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, talked about how workers in the trades ‘”desperately need work.” Meanwhile, said Gillespie:
Infrastructure is going to hell. We’re already trained just put our people to work.
As Philadelphia central labor council President Pat Eiding put it, the union movement is letting people know that “working peoples’ voices are strong.” He added:
Today is about jobs. It’s about putting workers right here in Philadelphia, and all over this country, back to work.
Among other Make Wall Street Pay actions around the country, in Buffalo, N.Y., union and community activists set up a poker table yesterday at a Bank of America branch. U Under a “Gambling with Our Lives” banner, Buffalo, N.Y., they reenacted the banks’ risky wagers that wrecked the economy. Sam Williams, co-chair of the Western New York Area Labor Federation (WNYALF), told the Buffalo News:
Wall Street has been protected at the expense of Main Street families. Wall Street must restore the jobs that they destroyed.
Also yesterday, union activists held demonstrations in Des Moines, Iowa; Jersey City, N.J.; and Manchester, N.H. Several more actions are set for today.
You also can tell Wall Street executives to pay to create good jobs by sending a letter urging them to do the right thing. Just click here.