The American Bankers Association will hold its annual meeting in downtown Chicago next Sunday through Wednesday, and, when they do, they'll have some company: the Service Employees International Union is planning a march and rally on Tuesday, which, it says, will include 5,000 people from across the country, all there to protest the banking industry for abetting the financial crisis and opposing financial reforms.
(SEIU's rally won't be the only political happening at the ABA meeting: speakers at the convention will include Newt Gingrich and George Will.)
Chicago, you may recall, has been an epicenter of labor vs. banking conflict before: when Bank of America stopped financing for Republic Windows and Doors, workers sat in at the factory in December 2008, which became a national news story.
That's the type of anger and frustration SEIU will hope to voice next week.
"I worked for Quad City Die Casting for 19 years, and the plant closed September 4...because Wells Fargo wouldn't continue the financing for the plant," UE local 1174 President Keith Scribner told reporters on a conference call today. "Right now, Wells Fargo owes almost 100 people close to $220,000 for our vacation pay and medical bills that have been coming in, and they are just refusing to pay us."
SEIU has been active in criticizing the financial sector since the economic crisis began. In addition to protests, the union has launched a campaign against Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis and was part of the driving force behind his ouster as chairman of the bank at its shareholders meeting in April. As a sidenote, it's plausible Lewis will be at the ABA meeting in Chicago, as Bank of America is a member organization.
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