March 31st, 2009
04:24 PM ET
4 years ago

SEIU puts pressure on Obama, Bank of America CEO

Bank of American CEO Ken Lewis should be fired, the SEIU says.
Bank of American CEO Ken Lewis should be fired, the SEIU says.

(CNN) - One of the country's largest labor unions criticized President Obama Tuesday for pushing GM CEO Rick Wagoner to resign, but not handing a pink slip to Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis.

SEIU President Andy Stern, whose union conglomerate endorsed Obama in the Democratic primary, said it "defies logic, common-sense, and responsible governance to punish the auto industry while letting financial institutions off the hook."

"Both Rick Wagoner and Ken Lewis sunk large public companies - putting thousands out of work and toppling the American economy - while accepting billions in taxpayer bailouts. Yet only Wagoner got a pink slip," Stern said in a statement. "Firing GM's CEO is a positive step towards restructuring a broken industry. But the Obama Administration needs to apply the same lesson to the financial sector: replace failed leadership and shepherd the industry into a new era."

The SEIU is also circulating a petition to its two million members calling on the president to ask for Lewis's resignation.

Stern also specifically criticized Lewis for "actively fighting" the Employee Free Choice Act, the pending legislation that would make it easier for employees to unionize.

SEIU spokeswoman Christy Setzer said the organization is specifically targeting Lewis because "more Americans are affected by them than any other financial institution."


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. CAL

    I tend to agree with this. Those CEO's need to fired also hell they cost more than the auto industry and this loser did not see the need to apologize when ask if the american people deserve an apology.

    March 31, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Georgia Gal

    You can also add the guy that is head of AIG's London office to that list. He is the reason for the AIG debacle and IMO he probably should be the next to go. Yes Ken Lewis screwed up, but it was nothing compared to what this guy did.

    March 31, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Mobius

    What say we do away with the unions? Oh, that's right. Americans aren't intelligent enough to deal with their employers individually....as evidenced by unions. Nice going.

    March 31, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. pete

    Really, now lets play politics with everyone that the government owns. This is what you get when you elected Obama. Total government control..
    Good luck with socialism

    March 31, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Johnny from VA

    It's all just smoke and mirrors... buy canned goods, bottled water, guns and ammo.

    March 31, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. TCM

    Obama is squandering trillions of taxpayer's dollars, and handing the bill to us, with nothing to show for us...sinking not only a company, but a nation. He should resign as well.

    March 31, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. John in Ohio

    The CEOs should get fired, and be grateful for that much. They could be facing pitchfork-wielding mobs angry at the bloated corporate parasites that have fed off America for so long.

    March 31, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Brian Crooks

    Amen, this guy needs to go along with Vikram Pandit. I'm sick of people blaming this all on the unions. The unions don't make the business decisions, and the business decisions are what caused GM to go down. The unions didn't tell the management what kind of cars to make or to kill the EV1. And they've made concession after concession over the past decade. People act like union members are driving solid gold Cadillacs and washing their dogs with Cristal. The next time you get to go on vacation with your family or take time off to deal with a death in the family or you come down with the flu and get to use a few of your sick days, THANK A UNION MEMBER.

    March 31, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. Doug

    Perhaps we should consider that the demands made by the very group complaining about the heads of of these large public companies and the unions they represent have been just as much at fault in breaking the American auto industry as the leaders of those companies themselves. Somewhat ironic coming from the head of a labor union!

    March 31, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Jimmy Boy

    Of course... He is affraid that they will come after him next, and they should.

    March 31, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Lesley Anne

    If we own part of a company through the bailout, then we should be able to decide who stays and who goes, we have become one of the "employers." I agree that bank heads should roll. I do take objection to some posters' ridicule of unions. Do you even have any idea what it was like for workers before unions and how hard they fought for basic rights? It has perhaps gone too far the other way, but to demonize unions is too easy because it's been too long ago that workers were treated like slaves and had to work in unsafe conditions with no rights whatsoever. Do some history before you take sides.

    March 31, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. gewe

    why is it that people working in theatuomobile industry asked to cut wages and pensions when the goverment is broke has to borrow money why are they not going after people on goverment pension congressman senators ex priesidents ect.

    March 31, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. JP

    One of the biggest reasons the big 3 three auto makers are in such trouble is the UAW. For example in 1998 the UAW metal stamping plant workers negotiated production quotas that they could fill in 5 hours but they got paid for 8 hours. When GM tried to move the equipment elsewhere the UAW went on a 54 day strike costings GM 2.2 billion. The employee free choice act will do to American business what the UAW did to the auto makers.

    March 31, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. Truth Bomb Thrower

    Am I the only person scared half to death by the thought of the president ( or who knows what other corrupt, incompetent politician or bureaucrat) firing people in the private sector on a whim? In a few years, am I going to have to worry about losing my job if the wrong person doesn't like my bumper sticker or my political views? Am I the only person who can see the slippery slope we are inching out onto? Wake up, people! Government needs to keep it's power-hungry hands off the private sector! Stop the bail-outs! Stop the firings!

    March 31, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. dave french

    Right. The SEIU are experts. Where were these idiots on the ride down if they are so smart. They are just looking for press. I say get rid of the SEIU as they are a hindrence to growth.

    March 31, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. President for Hire

    Comrade Obama will tackle this issue after he meets with his socialistic commrades in Europe this week.

    If Obama keeps taxing businesses and small business owners, just watch the exodus of jobs from the US to Canada, The Caribbean, Europe, and the pacific Rim. Many of our largest financial institutions can be headquestered in Hong Kong as well as New York.

    Mr Obama is a dangerous, reckless individual tinkering with something he knows very little about.

    And for a government leadership that would have difficulty managing a lemonade stand, it scares Americans when Obama and his comrades begin to manage the Fortune 500 companies. Get ready for an economic melt down.

    March 31, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  17. Virginian

    I agree, and then if we can figure out a way to fire the USA's "CEO" then we ought to do it-shame on all of you who thought it was prudent to elect that man as president. Unfortunately, unless the congress grows a set, we are stuck with him for at least 4 years. I say we should have him impeached before he takes total control of everything that has been fought for over the centuries (free enterprise and basic freedoms) and send him to live with his half-brother!

    March 31, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. John in Ohio

    People who think unions are the problem should compare the average union member's house to the average upper executive's house.

    And unions wouldn't exist at all if executives could be trusted. In businesses where the executives take care of their people, there isn't any need for unions. Unions form when employers screw over employees, not because employees are happy with their working environment.

    March 31, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. The Last Patriot

    And the obvious questions is: why shouldn't SEIU President Andy Stern get the ax for driving up labor costs across America and making the country less competitive?

    Shall we do a review of his own compensation package, which comes on the backs of blue collar workers?

    March 31, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. Mia and Mike

    I agree! We taxpayers are constantly told to consume more goods and get in the stock market in an effort to boost the economy. Those of us who do /did are now left with dwindling accounts and things we wanted but did not NEED. If the private and public sectors want us to buy stocks in these companies, they need to be held accountable and FIRED for horrible mismanagement. Sorry, but my wife and I will most likely never contribute any more to our 401ks and IRAs. We've lost nearly 50% if our 401ks in the last year, so whey should we. THese things aren't guaranteed, and my wife didn't even receive a match at her job. We would have been better off keeping all our money in our bank's saving account!

    March 31, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. abc ~ anything but california hugh

    Does the saying "save my own hide" mean anything here! The fact is American autoworkers are grossly overpaid and are only interested in saving their hides and their way of doing business, which is one reason why the auto industry in America is going down like a sinking ship. When did this union ever care about CEO's? Give me a break! Of course the wallstreet CEO's should get canned, but spare me the false sympathy–please!

    March 31, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Canadian4Hillary

    If the government is firing people & asking for concessions from union members than maybe they should take a major pay cut too!

    After all most of them took money from the banks etc for donations!

    I fear what the USA will look like in the very near future, God help you & all!

    March 31, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. Amber (Dem in FL)

    Just another reason why Hillary Clinton should have been President and NOT Obama. She would have spanked the financial market for their lunacy, disrespect, and out of touch acts.

    He's really becoming a disappointment.

    March 31, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. Mia and Mike

    Virginia, I'm not understanding your logic. I also don't think very many of us who voted for President Obama are feeling any remorse.

    March 31, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. katiec

    The banks have also used bailout money to lobby agaInst the unions. For those of you criticizing the unions so, do you really want the caliber of CEO's we have determining the future of the American
    worker?? Unions have made mistakes, CEO's have made mistakes but the unions have always been there for middle class America.
    They have sacrificed and fought for our workers.. Agree wages, benefits have gotten out of hand but this happened when times were good and the companies agreed to contracts.
    For those of you not aware of what the unions have done for our country to need to read some history.

    March 31, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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