UAW withdraws ‘hundreds of millions’ in Chase protest
By Tyler Kane
Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers, announced Friday that the union is in the process of withdrawing â€śhundreds of millions of dollarsâ€ť from JP Morgan Chase accounts due to the bankâ€™s refusal to freeze mortgage foreclosures in Michigan.
The announcement comes three months after several hundred demonstrators gathered at Chase Tower in Detroit, seeking such a freeze. Although Chase officials said there would be further meetings with the activists at the time, King said the talks never materialized.
The Rev. David Bullock, president of the Detroit Rainbow PUSH Coalition, expressed his frustration with the bank: â€śWeâ€™re tired of having fruitless leaves. We are tired of standing at the table but getting no opportunity for dialogue or change.â€ť
King also called for others to join in boycotting Chase over the mortgage issue and the bankâ€™s business with R.J. Reynolds tobacco company. Those two issues were the focus of the June demonstration, which coincided with the meeting of the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. King, who said he had just returned from visiting R.J. Reynolds-owned fields in North Carolina, described the conditions for workers as unsanitary and unlivable.
â€śYou will not believe conditions that are like this in the United States of America today,â€ť King said about the tobacco fields.
Along with other supporters, the Rev. Edwin A. Rowe, senior pastor at Central United Methodist Church where the announcement was made, took scissors to their Chase credit cards after King encouraged concerned people to close accounts.
â€śYou have a moral responsibility to step up,â€ť said King.
The UAW decided that the hundreds of million dollars invested in Chase bank will be redistributed to banks that are more local. While no specific banks were named, King said that the banks that this money would go to would be â€śmore friendly banks that will work with communities.â€ť
Chase spokesperson Mary Kay Bean had no direct comment on the UAW withdrawals or the boycott, but she released a statement that detailed the bankâ€™s efforts to help struggling homeowners through mortgage modifications. The bank states that more than 900,000 mortgage modifications have been offered, and Chase has advised nearly 100,000 struggling homeowners since the beginning of 2009.
Tyler Kane is a Metro Times editorial intern.