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. badger

    For those against unions remember this. Unions built the middle class, which in turn made America prosper, until the greedy CEO needed to get 400 times the money as the worker. I say Lewis should go, him and all the other CEO's that have been raping their workers and running these companys into the ground. Smith walks away with a penison worth 23 million a uaw member gets 2500 a month now who stole all the money?

    March 31, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    This is what happens when the Governemnt picks the winners and the losers. If left along these people would have been bankrupt with no bailouts.
    All I know is the American working middle class citizen is having the most of the strain and pain put on their backs in this recovery plan.

    March 31, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. Kansas Hawk

    I totally agree with Georgia Gal. Top management at AIG needs to be fired, they keep doing damage. It never has made sense as to why the financial industry got such a sweet deal. I think the whole world can see regulation is necessary, just as laws and policemen are. Lewis needs a pink slip along with a few dozen more in the financial sector. To the Pete's of the world, what are we to do, sit back and do nothing until there is nothing left to save and build upon. My 403-b is worth less than it was 15 years ago and is worth 25 % less than it was only 6 months ago. I wish Obama would have been there to step in 8 or 9 months ago and maybe I wouldn't be down 25%. Maybe Americans should learn something from the French, youth taking the CEO's hostage. That gives a new spin to accountability.

    March 31, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. Super MOD

    BofA was in great shape until the Fed pushed the Countrywide and Merrill Lynch deals on them. Do not blame Ken Lewis. It was the governments hand that hurt BofA. They are back on the upside too looking to post profits this year.

    March 31, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. No More Incumbents

    Gee..... I wonder which one contributed to the Obama campaign.....

    March 31, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. shucks

    Sorry, but noone bailed out the steel industry in the 1980's, and the job losses at that time were staggering. When you hear of unemployment reaching the same as in the early 80's, that is when the steel industry collapsed. That was also in part to the republican party who found it wise to allow Japanese and Chinese imports of steel to underprice the US steel makers. The difference is that the auto industry did this to themselves by not progressing and acting like oil was king, and big cars were American standards. Big mistake.

    March 31, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. jfs Memhis, Tn

    I agree.....................I support the Pres and still do............The banks and Wall Street have HUGE offshore interests that are cashing in as soon as the taxpayer dollars are used to bail all these FINANCE Guru's out. The USA cannot survive without American Autos....they are the ones in WWII who made Motors, Tanks , Aircraft engines etc. I really do not think that we can depend on offshore suppliers for everything !!!! It is in the national security to support ALL USA Manufacturing ....from Autos, to shoes, to garments, to TV's, to dog food. The Government should INVEST/INVEST/INVEST and INVEST in the USA just as all other Global economies are doing within their own countries. WE MUST LEARN TO CONSUME OUR OWN QUALITY PRODUCTS.

    March 31, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. Super MOD

    How come nobody is questioning the lavish union retreat down in FL a couple months ago paid with union dues? What is the pay for union bosses and how much of a bonus did they get last year while the employees they represent were laid off? Unions dictate the policies for a lot of these companies. It was their failed policies that sunk GM.

    March 31, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  9. Patsy Madison, TN

    Thank you Mr. President for doing something to get us out of Bush's mess, amd I meam mess. We have been sliding down hill for the last six to seven years years and Bush could not do anything but sneak around trying to look like he was doing something, and we now know he was clueless. It is impossilbe to get into this mess in less than 100 days, he received this package from Bush/Cheney. Bush hid the real spending from the public, and it is just now coming out. The GOP can always throw mud, but nothing else worth while.

    March 31, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  10. roy

    Wow, for once I agree with the seiu, and I am shocked that these weenies are challanging the god like Obama. I think alot of people that voted for this clown are going to wake up and say.......what the hell did I do?

    March 31, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. phoenix86

    Andy Stern and the rest of organized labor leadership should be fired as well. However, voters and campaign cash are what matters to Obama, so the schrill continues while the emperor fiddles.

    March 31, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. seriously

    Are you really trying to compare an auto giant that has been struggling for years and has repetedly failed to address a broken business model to a bank that has been profitable in all but one quarter over the last several years, modernized banking for customers and who is (unlike the automakers) looking to pay back the government money as soon as possible? How are these the same?

    March 31, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. Paris

    If any CEO need to be fired it has to be done by the board of directors and not he President of the United State.
    Unless we are now the United Socialist States of America.
    Where are the defenders of the Constitution to raise hell on Government controlling the Private sector.

    I like to know who will keep the heads of the union accountable for brining our automobile industry to its knee’s?

    I have made a conscious decision to only shop at the chains that don’t hire union.

    March 31, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Roland

    We truly are idiots in this country when we reward bad behavior. Honestly all of the institutions in this country that have failed over the last year should go away and the CEO's that fudge the books should go to federal prison.

    March 31, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. Moving Forward!

    @Brian Crooks: The unions have a choke hold on HOW our auto companies do business! The unions have refused for decades to let the auto industry upgrade to the teechnology that european and japanese car companies have been using! Why do you think their running our companies into the ground?? The contracts are ridiculous for instance if a company has no work UNION employees can not be laid off, instead they report to work stand by their machines which stay turned off and get PAID!!! What job have you had where you could sit at your desk put your feet up read a book and get paid??? Union contracts need to be streamlined, fiscally responsible, and yet protect workers; so far they protect workers at the expense of a whole industry! This is also the reason OUT SOURCING IS SO HIGH!! No unions over seas!

    March 31, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. Alvin

    AIG`s CEO was fired before Bush gave them the first bail out.

    The CEOs of funny Mae and Freddie Mac were also fired when the the meltdown occurred last fall.

    CEO of GM has been fired now. Whats your problem?

    Had these guys not been fired critics would still be asking why they didn`t get fired since they drove the banks into the ditch. Sorry guys can`t have it both ways.

    March 31, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. JL

    Right, fire him for whom to take the helm? How about we FIRE GW Bush and R. Cheney for making the entire situation possible? Why did no one call for Bush and Cheney to be impeached and held in JAIL for the 8 years of LIES and rip-offs? Can I buy a vowel!

    March 31, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. No Incumbents 2010

    Mad yet America?

    March 31, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  19. joe smith

    better watch out Mr. Stern, it's your union, and your insistance to pass the employee card bill, that will ultimately get YOU the pink slip..people in glass houses.....

    March 31, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Twisted

    The whole Obama administration is double-standard. Wake up America, Obama is nothing but words.

    Hold on tight, because we are all in for a horrible ride.

    March 31, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. David in Houston

    'Pete', 'Virginian', and the likes...

    Thank you for reminding me of the importance of a well-rounded education.

    If it were up to you I'm certain George W. would still be president.

    Luckily it's not...

    March 31, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  22. Mississippi Mike

    That's good news. I thought unions were only interested in worker safety and fair treatment. It's good to know that they think that the government has the right to fire CEO's of private businesses just because they couldn't turn a profit. If the president is going to fire CEO's shouldn't they also fire the heads of unions that are driving some industries into bankruptcy? No, that would involve being fair instead of the kind of "fair" that liberals like to cry about.

    March 31, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  23. Cliff

    Yes, Lewis should go...AND...so should Stern!
    The EFCA...or whatever....is NOT FREE CHOICE but opens the votes to a PUBLIC vote. Do you know anyone who has voted against what their union wants...and lived to tell about it?
    Nobama is doing this as payback to all the unions who fell at his feet and drank the kool-aid with him.
    The only thing lower than union leaders is an ex mother-in-law!

    March 31, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Grant

    Whoa whoa, what is going on here?! Is this a socialist revolution going on in America...now we finally know who/what the machine is behind "front man" Obama!

    Listen, it is up to the Board of BMA to fire Lewis, not Congress. BMA has not asked for any further funds from TARP despite the Governments constant insinuations that they need to. BMA was FORCED by Congress to take the $ to complete the Merril Lynch deal, which they were wavering in September, much like Wells Fargo was FORCED to take TARP funds to buy Wachovia. Trust me, these guys regret taking the TARP monies and are working hard to repay the Government as quick as possible to get Barney Frank and Waxman out of their hair. Watch in the next few weeks when BMA reports a few billion in profit for Q1 2009...it seems are corporate institutions are under attack....perhaps we should look at the policies of Reid and Pelosi's social experiment beginning in 2006 which put everybody in this mess in the first place....now they are hanging out the guys who were forced to find a way to finance their hairbrain policies/movement..boy there will be some good "tell all" reading in a few years when the players can talk without fear of retribution from Congress

    March 31, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. fed up enough to consider foriegn auto

    There has been greed from the top. On the other side of the coin the unions are no better. They have also gotten greedy and the last straw for me was when they walked away from the table a couple of months ago and just expected, as always, that they would get their way. The unions were desperately needed when they began but today;they are completely unrealistic and out of control. It's crazy what they expect to make.

    March 31, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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