The nationwide grassroots campaign to make Wall Street pay to help rebuild our economy is on full display in California this week, as working families gather outside big Wall Street banks in San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego and Orange County. Hundreds of working people are taking part in the protests statewide, along with AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, who will be speaking at the Bank of America action in San Diego on Friday.
The actions, part of the AFL-CIO’s nationwide “Make Wall Street Pay” campaign, highlight the growing anger working families are feeling toward the large financial institutions that brought our economy to brink of ruin and now aren’t paying their fair share to help us get back on track.
In Sacramento today, dozens of protestors organized by the Sacramento Labor Council rallied in front of Bank of America holding signs that read “Where is my bailout?” and “I am not your ATM!”
Bill Camp, secretary-treasurer of the Sacramento Labor Council, said that big Wall Street banks not only helped to cause the current financial crisis, they then gave Americans a symbolic slap in the face by doling out $145 billion in executive pay and bonuses last year and spending millions more lobbying against financial reform after receiving a $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout.
Wall Street created the global economic crisis, and now it’s time that they help Main Street get back on its feet. These big banks need to atone for the damage they’ve done to this economy by paying to help us rebuild it. We need to stop these banks from ruining our economy. We can stop them from stealing us blind. We have to stop them.
At a time when layoffs are sweeping the state and many families are still struggling to put food on the table, news of fat bonuses for Wall Street CEOs has left many Californians seeing red.
Holding a sign that read “Save the needy, not the greedy”, SEIU Local 1877 member Lino Pedres said:
Banks should be held accountable to the citizens of California. It is time for us to ask the banks, ‘What jobs are you creating for us?’
The AFL-CIO supports four proposals for banks to pay a fair share to restore the economy:
- New fees on Wall Street banks to pay back the cost of the bank bailout;
- A special levy on Wall Street bonuses;
- Closing the loophole for hedge fund and private equity managers — the wealthiest people in the country — and taxing them at ordinary income rates; and
- A financial speculation tax on all financial market transactions, including derivatives, futures and options.
With unemployment at record levels in California, working people are clearly sick of Wall Street profiting at a time when so many are suffering. After bailing out these institutions and saving their jobs, it is now time for them to return the favor. Protestors across the state promised further action to achieve serious financial reform.