March 9, 2010



As labor unions wind down their fight for health care reform, they will announce details Monday of their next major campaign: an attack on the nation’s biggest banks for their role in the financial crisis and a push for a new transaction tax to raise $100 billion a year for a national jobs program.

The “Call to Action on Jobs” will last six to nine months and will run to at least Congressional mid-term elections, a union official said, and will target six firms: JPMorgan Chase (JPM: 42.5, -0.07, -0.16%), Bank of America (BAC: 16.86, 0.12, 0.72%), Citigroup (C: 3.82, 0.25, 7%), Wells Fargo (WFC: 29, 0.12, 0.42%), Morgan Stanley (MS: 29.01, -0.55, -1.86%) and Goldman Sachs (GS: 171.7548, 1.8448, 1.09%).

“We want to draw a clear choice for voters where people in office and people running for office come down on these issues,” the official said. “This will be one way to hold [candidates] accountable.”

The AFL-CIO previously announced it will kick off the campaign with demonstrations at bank offices and branches in 200 locations starting March 15 and running through March 30.

But the union official said the effort will also include large demonstrations at the firms modeled after the protest at the annual meeting of the American Bankers Association in October in Chicago. That event drew about 8,000 demonstrators.

Ahead of the announcement next week, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka sent an email to union activists Monday asking them to start organizing for the campaign.

“The AFL-CIO…has called upon the entire labor movement–our affiliated unions, our state and local labor councils, the millions of members of Working America and our allies in communities and progressive movements across this country–to come together to create and protect good jobs,” Trumka wrote.

“Our first step is to hold Wall Street accountable and ensure the Big Banks pay to replace the jobs they destroyed,” he said.

The AFL-CIO’s executive committee announced the broad goals of the “Call for Action on Jobs” at its winter meeting in Orlando last week.

A sample flyer for a March demonstration targets Bank of America. It reads in large type, “Tell Bank of America to PAY UP!” .

“Big Wall Street banks helped cause the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” the flyer goes on to say.“Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, homes and retirement savings. But the biggest Wall Street bans gave their execs $145 billion in pay and bonuses. Bank of America paid just one exec $29.9 million.”

The flyer notes the Bank of America received $45 billion in taxpayer assistance through the TARP bailout program. B of A repaid its TARP funds to the Treasury Department in full last year. 

The campaign will urge Congress to pass a proposed “financial speculation tax.” A labor coalition, Americans for Financial Reform, estimates will raise more than $100 billion a year, or more than $1 trillion over 10 years. Supporters of the tax have introduced legislation to enact it in both the House and Senate. You can read an AFR document on it here.

So far, the Obama Administration has rejected the idea, saying it could make U.S. financial firms less competitive with foreign banks and drive U.S. customers overseas. But the union official said the campaign will attempt to tap populist anger against banks to win passage of the tax.

The official said the “Call for Action on Jobs” will also pressure banks to increase lending to small businesses and to back down on their lobbying against tougher provisions in financial regulation reform, which is working its way through Congress.

The union official did not provide a budget figure for the campaign.