FLOC: Faith and labor leaders to withdraw millions from Chase Bank
DETROIT: At a news conference Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 at Central United Methodist Church, faith and labor leaders announced their intention to withdraw hundreds of millions of dollars from JPMorgan Chase Bank.
Their protest is driven by the bank’s refusal to declare a two-year moratorium on foreclosures in Michigan and its continuing ties with RJ Reynolds Corp. The tobacco giant, financed by JP Morgan Chase, has refused to engage in negotiations with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) over low wages and unsafe working conditions at farms of contract growers in North Carolina.
UAW President Bob King, who has just returned from a fact-finding tour of the North Carolina tobacco fields, is prepared to remove all of its funds from the bank.
“Chase needs to help unemployed homeowners in Michigan and underpaid farm workers in the Carolinas,” King said. “The bank could make a huge difference by suspending foreclosures and pressuring RJ Reynolds to do the right thing.”
Campaign leaders are calling on citizens to support their efforts by pledging to close their accounts at the bank and cancel their Chase credit cards.
About 1,000 demonstrators marched on Chase Bank in June seeking a hearing with the bank’s officers on both of these issues. Chase officials met with King, Pastor D. Alexander Bullock of the Rainbow PUSH coalition, FLOC President Baldemar Velásquez, and the Rev. Ed Rowe of Central United Methodist Church.
At a follow-up meeting in August, campaign leaders called on Chase to join President Barack Obama’s Hardest Hit Homeowners program and declare a temporary 90-day moratorium.
Participants in these discussions believed the bank had made a good-faith commitment to continue the dialogue, but Chase has since failed to communicate its intentions regarding any of the issues raised.
“This is a matter of life and death,” said Pastor Bullock. “The words of Chase officials that they are willing to help the thousands who are living in undervalued homes and facing possible eviction is unconvincing in light of their refusal to seriously consider a moratorium on foreclosures.”
Community leaders are calling on Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers to initiate hearings on the failure of Chase and other banks to effectively implement federal programs calling for mortgage modifications to keep people in their homes.