As hundreds of people remain encamped on Wall Street in New York City, and thousands of people across the country are taking part in a 99 Percent Movement aimed at battling economic inequality spurred on by enormous income gains by the richest one percent of Americans.
One of the financial institutions being targeted by protesters is foreclosure mill and government bailout recipient Bank of America (BOA). In Boston, thousands of people marched against BOA’s greed and in Los Angeles, numerous people were arrested while staging a sit-in at a local branch.
While many Americans may feel powerless against this banking behemoth, the truth is that Americans have a simple way to protest its greed and corporate malfeasance: simply move your money out of the bank to one of its competitors, such as a local credit union. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently encouraged Americans to do just that.
ThinkProgress has assembled five reasons why American consumers could consider moving their money and striking a blow to this abusive banking giant:
1. Bank of America Just Unveiled A Shocking New Debit Card Fee: Late last month, BOA announced that it would start charging a $5-a-month fee simply for consumers to use their debit cards for purchases. Although a few of its competitors have started using similar fees in recent times, BOA’s presence as America’s largest banking chain means that if it successfully enacts such a fee, it may be able to set a trend in the industry to make such charges the norm. More than 137,000 Americans have signed an online change.org petition protesting the fee. Most credit unions do not charge for using one’s debit card, and one credit unions, Delta Credit Union based in Atlanta, is even holding a “Switch Day” to encourage BOA’s customers to switch over to its services instead.
2. Bank of America Has Spent Millions Lobbying To Gut Reforms With Your Tax Dollars: Despite being bailed out to the tune of billions of dollars by the federal government, Bank of America has still had the gumption to spend millions of dollars in Washington battling new reforms meant re-regulate the financial sector. It spent nearly $4 million hiring a double-digit number of lobbyists in 2010, mostly aimed at gutting legislation related to banking regulations. Meanwhile, it spent a million dollars on campaign contributions in the 2010 electoral cycle.
3. Bank of America’s Practices Are At The Nexus Of The Foreclosure Crisis: Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan raised eyebrows recently when he excitedly cheered for faster foreclosures of Americans’ homes. Despite being found to be a major user of error-ridden “robo-signing” foreclosure practices last year, the mega-bank only briefly halted its foreclosure proceedings nationwide. It is also facing lawsuits by multiple states over its mortgage practices.
4. Bank of America Just Announced That It Was Laying Off 30,000 People: The “firm’s 30,000 job cuts are more than double what any other U.S.-based employer has announced so far this year, according to a employment tracking group.” The layoffs come after a decision by Bank of America, JP Morgan, and Citigroup earlier this year to “outsource IT and back office projects worth nearly $5 billion this year to India, as they seek to lower costs.”
5. Despite The Poor Economy, Bank Of America Continues To Reward Its Executives With Multi-Million Dollar Salaries: Despite blaming economic woes for layoffs of employees and its new debit card fee, the mega-bank continues to deliver huge paydays to its executives. The bank just announced that two of its former executives, Sallie Krawcheck and Joe Price, will receive a salary of $850,000 and a payment of $5.15 million and a salary of $850,000 and a payment of $4.15 million respectively. Meanwhile, BOA maintained its CEO’s salary of $950,000 plus $9.05 million in performance-based stock awards this year.
Americans do not have to stand by and allow a mega-bank to continue to rip off its consumers, to develop and foster abusive mortgage practices, reward its executives lavishly, and shortchange own workforce. They can strike a blow against this institution by simply moving their money away from it, either to its major competitors or into the country’s large network of community banks and credit unions.
In order to facilitate this process, Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) — shortly after meeting with Occupy Raleigh protesters in Bank of America’s hub city — has introduced the “Freedom and Mobility in Consumer Banking Act,” which would ensure that Americans “have the right to immediately close any account at any insured depository institutions on demand, without cost to the consumer, that consumers receive any balance in their account immediately, and for other purposes.” The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has launched a petition drive in support of Miller’s bill. Sign their petition here. For resources on finding a community bank or credit union to store your money, see the “Move Your Money Project.”
Organizers are putting together a “Bank Transfer Day” on November 5th and are encouraging Americans to pull their money out of big banks and put their savings instead into credit unions.
Other organizers are calling for Americans to close accounts at “too big to fail” banks on November 12.