September 24, 2018 | ° F

Bank of America played major role in economic crisis

While we have only read and heard about the Great Depression, we now have the experience of first-handedly witnessing another economically crippling recession. Though the government has begun to make steps to better the current economy, we as citizens need to understand how this severe downfall came to occur. Bailout funds were distributed to multiple major corporations in hopes of getting these industries fiscally stable once again. Behind the scenes, Bank of America played a major role in causing the economic crisis, but still received substantial bailout funds, provided by not only the federal government, but taxpayers as well. The Chief Executive Officer of this dominant corporation, Ken Lewis, has seemingly made selfish, profit-making decisions over the last several years that have forced American consumers to suffer rather than remain financially secure.

In terms of bailout funds, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch received $45 billion in tax-payer bailouts and then proceeded to award their traders and executives about $5.2 billion in bonuses for 2008. Instead of helping its suffering customers, Lewis has approved transactions such as these to increase the salaries of those who are not sacrificing through this recession. Bank of America has not shown consideration for or interest in helping its loyal customers. Between 1993 and 2003, Bank of America collected about $284 million in Social Security funds from the accounts of the elderly and disabled in order to obtain its bank fees. Employees of this corporation have convinced customers to take on debt levels that they could never afford, leaving unpaid mortgage loans. As CEO, Lewis has endorsed these choices knowing they were intended to make corporate profits, despite the effects on the economy and American people. Lewis no longer deserves the privilege to lead such a dominant organization that can so badly affect our economy with its selfish decisions.

Aside from Bank of America's poor financial decisions, the company has also taken opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. If enacted, this legislation simplifies the process for employees to form labor organizations or unions by having a union recognized if the majority of employees support the union in the first card check. The EFCA is beneficial to workers because it provides fair labor standards provided by unionization. Young people need to be more informed of the benefits of unionization in the labor force. We are all going to graduate at some point, whether it be next month or in two years, and need jobs that pay well. Young people in unions have significantly higher salaries than those workers that are not organized. Unions reduce wage inequality and fight for equality for all workers that are at risk for discrimination of any kind. The improvement of wages not only increases the standard of living for the workers affected but also creates an overall boost for the economy because of the money available for consumer spending.

It is time for the American taxpayer to take a stand against the overwhelming economic crisis that has encompassed our lives. Lewis should be taken out of the powerful position he currently holds. Today's economy is not stable enough for the corporate greed he prefers to practice. Lewis's opposition to the EFCA demonstrates that he not only has no regard for the American people, but also is just as disloyal to those who work under him. In response to these economically altering decisions, the Rutgers Labor Association is choosing to take a stand. An action is being held along with the deliverance of taxpayer proxies — a list of fair demands that include the firing of Lewis and the honest commitment to true financial reform and regulation. The American taxpayers should have a say in who is running the company. The action will take place on Tuesday April 28 at 3:00 p.m. at the Bank of America on the corner of George Street and Albany Street. The Rutgers Labor Association invites anyone who agrees that financial reform is desperately needed now more than ever.

Laura Barrett is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in labor studies.

Laura Barrett

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