Saturday, September 12, 2015

Resolution to boycott Bank of America

CTU Delegates Pass Resolution to Boycott Bank of America
By Jim Vail

The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates met last Wednesday, September 9, 2015, and passed an important resolution to boycott Bank of America.

Certainly the union is intent on taking on the banks by publicizing the fact that Bank of America profited to the tune of roughly $200 million via risky credit swaps and loans while the Chicago Public Schools had to cut many teacher positions, among them teacher and assistant teachers who work with children with learning disabilities. Those cuts amounted to about the same $200 million.

As the delegate representing Hammond Elementary School, I rose in full support of the resolution. However, I said a boycott means not getting on the bus, hitting them in their pocketbook. So I then asked the packed room of more than 500 delegates if any had money in the bank. Surprisingly, only a few score of hands went up (maybe 50 or so).

CTU President Karen Lewis said she has her mortgage with Bank of America. The fact that BofA has bought out so many smaller banks, and thus rolled over mortgages that originated elsewhere could very well have been Lewis's dilemma.

So I said the union should encourage the delegates and ask their members in the schools to take their money out of the bank.

I encourage all teachers to get their money out of this toxic bank. 

However, I also said where to put one's money is important because there are other 'too big to fail banks' like BofA that don't deserve our hard-earned teacher money. 

Lewis suggested teachers put their money into the Credit Union that represents the CTU.

Retiree delegate and Substance editor George Schmidt told delegates to put their money into community banks. He put his money into Parkway Bank on the North side and recommended that CTU members do likewise.

So teachers and delegates reading this, if you know of colleagues or even friends or family who believe in public education, and have BofA bank accounts, encourage them to take that money out and put it in the Credit Union or a good community you feel comfortable with. 

Then we are really boycotting this bank!

CTU Resolution to Boycott Bank of America

Whereas, since 2003, CPS entered into a number of detrimental interest swap agreements or variable rate bonds with various Wall Street banks, including Bank of America, which did not adequately disclose the risks associated with these deals to CPS officials, and

Whereas, over the course of 12 years these agreements have cost CPS schools a total of at least $237 million, and $32 million of that has gone to BofA; and as a result of its credit rating downgrades, CPS will now have to pay more than $228 million in swap termination fees, including $38 million or more to BofA, and

Whereas, the City of Oakland is currently boycotting Goldman Sachs because of the banks's refusal to renegotiate a swap that is costing the city $4 million a year; while entities like the city of Detroit, Jefferson County Alabama, and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, have successfully renegotiated or canceled their swap termination fees using legal and economic leverage, saving these entities hundreds of millions of dollars in exorbitant rates and fees, and

Whereas, due to these risky financial deals, and other types of fiscal mismanagement CPS has created a fiscal crisis that has resulted in the Board of Education borrowing up to $228 million to pay swap termination fees, which is roughly the same amount that was cut from Special Education programs and school budgets; while CPS is also laying off close to 1,500 teachers and support staff, and under-resourcing our schools; and 

Whereas, the Board of Education has resisted the CTU demand that the Board stop shifting the blame for its dismal financial position, junk bond status, and loss of credibility to a so-called "pension crisis" and call upon the BoA to act as a responsible corporate citizen and fairly renegotiate these toxic swap agreements, therefore be it

Resolved, that we as educators, concerned for the fate of our public schools and the communities we serve DEMAND that BofA act as a responsible corporate citizen and negotiate with the Chicago Board of Ed to cancel the swap deals, abolish the termination fees, and refund the $70 million it owes our students, school and educators, and be it also

Resolved, that CTU members will advocate for and lead a BOYCOTT against BofA until such time as BofA meets these demands to cancel the interest rate swaps, forego the termination fees, and refund the exorbitant costs of these contracts that have helped to starve our public schools of resources, and be it further

Resolved, that the CTU will appeal to the public, the media, our community partners, and other organizations and unions to widen the boycott to state and national levels.

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