Friday, May 13, 2011

2011-05-13 "Standing Up for Oakland: SEIU 1021 delegation confronts Goldman Sachs in the Big Apple"

 from "1021 NewsWire" Vol. IV, Issue 5.2
Small but packing a punch, a delegation from SEIU 1021 joined New York City-based labor and community groups this week in various actions, demonstrations, and teach-ins that targeted big banks in the heart of New York's financial district. The actions were a part of the "Week of Rage" -- a campaign to demand that the banking industry pay its fair share of taxes, therefore protecting our schools and public services from further cuts.
Centered at the United Federation of Teachers' (UFT) headquarters, just a block from Wall Street, the broad coalition of labor, tenants, youth, and anti-foreclosure groups organized around-the-clock activities to draw public attention to the need for increased accountability of the banking industry. Such activities included song-and-dance flash mobs at the World Financial Center, spontaneous protests inside of bank branches, flying squad marches through Wall Street, political theater in high profile areas, and teach-ins on legislative action that would close corporate tax loopholes and re-fund local governments.
While participating in these activities was inspirational and educational for the SEIU 1021 delegates in attendance, the delegation was sent to Wall Street to address a specific grievance. Prior to the collapse of Goldman Sachs and the $53.4 billion bailout it received from the nation's taxpayers, the City of Oakland (like many other major cities) entered into an interest rate swap deal with Goldman that's now forcing the city to pay GS $5 million per year for the next 10 years, even though the principle is already paid off. That or pay a stiff termination fee of $17 million.

Settling accounts -
Goldman Sachs has already made $26 million in profits from the swap deal. Meanwhile, the Oakland City Council and Mayor, facing a $58 million deficit this year, are considering drastic cuts to public libraries, after-school recreational programs, and other crucial services. In an effort to expose Goldman Sachs' callous profiteering at the expense of Oakland's youth, the SEIU 1021 delegation confronted the corporate criminals themselves.
Armed with a letter to CEO Lloyd Blankfein, our delegation marched to Goldman Sachs' headquarters with the Week of Rage coalition and refused to leave until someone came out to receive the letter, which demanded that Goldman forgive the debt and return to Oakland the $26 million that they've pocketed from the swap deal. After several rounds of negotiating with security, a Goldman employee who works under Blankfein came outside to accept the letter.
After attempting to assure the delegation that the letter would be promptly delivered to Blankfein, the delegates asked the Goldman employee if he knew what was happening with the City of Oakland. To this, the Goldman employee turned his back and walked away. This symbolic gesture reminded the delegation of how Wall Street has turned its back on America's working families and is walking away with our pensions, jobs, benefits, homes, and now our rights in the workplace too.
Video: SEIU 1021 members vs. Goldman Sachs []

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