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. Matthew, Detroit

    Why does Barack not Fire the president of the UAW.
    That would be a good start.
    The union is dragging down the car companies and they are not willing to negotiate.
    You fired Waggoner because he could not get them to the table.
    He wants the bond holders to take a 2/3rds loss.
    He wants the stock holders to take a loss.
    The Union needs to take a loss.

    March 31, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. ib

    This president was wrong in getting rid of Wagoner; it's wrong for a president to tell a private company CEO to leave and there is something wrong; very wrong by this country allowing it even if he is a bad CEO. It would be a double wrong to allow the president to force Lewis out. People say Bush went against the constitution; well what in the world is this president doing???? Our country is going down the tubes in a big big way.

    March 31, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. Baze

    Look, you can't fire EVERYBODY, and I better not hear any Repubs saying that Obama should, because in the next breath you'll also say that the president shouldn't have absolute power over the private industry, so please shut up. We don't know the full details of Wagoner's firing, he may have been a totally grossly inept fool!

    March 31, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  4. German,Irish American

    Scary, the unions tell Obama to jump, and he asks how high and which river. How come the UAW chairman wasn't fired too? In 2006, Dodd,Obama, and Franks scoffed at Bush when he advocated for a new sec chairman and tighter regulations on Fannie and Freddie, saying that these institutions were sound and Bush was trying to use "scare tactics" to further his agenda. Since Obama was the second largest recipient of Fannie, Freddie and AIG donations in just two short years as a Jr. Senator, it is time he tells the nation what he knew about the orchestrated collapse of these companies and when he knew it.

    March 31, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. Matthew, Detroit

    Fire Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd.

    They caused the entire banking collapse.
    They ruined our entire economy.
    Fire them and fire the unions that killed automotive.

    March 31, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. marcus

    to abc.. unions did not sink the US auto industry. it wasn't unions that decided to build the pinto blow-up mobile. it was executives that made the decisions to produce garbage. it's always been the executives. it sure wasn't the union workers at AIG, or Enron or WorldCom that screwed those companies into the ground. once again, it was the executives. and, who gets blamed ? the working-class stiff making 5-figure incomes. when this country has finally gone belly-up, i want all you knuckleheads to remember it was the executives who screwed it into the ground.

    March 31, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Larry

    The gov should NOT be firing anyone in a non-gov setting. We are so close to Socialism right now it's scary. It has also happened within 2 months of him taking office. For all the people who voted for Obama I guess you're still thrilled and agree with what he is doing and don't mind a Socialist society OR you're also scared of where it's going. Look I agree that this companies took the gov hand out and should be held accountable, but not like this.

    March 31, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. Arthur

    It would be very interesting to see what sort of comments would come from people if every decision President Obama made affected whether or not they personally worked, and had an income to take care of their families. Maybe then we would see a lot less selfish comments, made by those who are not impacted by current decisions to save jobs. And more common sense comments that are not biased by selfish, self centered individuals, thinking only of themselves. But thinking of all Americans, whether impacting them personally or not, and to whether our country gets it's economy back on track. This used to be a great country because the vast majority cared about all others. Now, I'm not so sure. And that doubt is a very sad thing to experience. For the majority seem to be self minded, 'me first, all others last'. 'If I am fine, who cares about the rest?' What a shame. God help America.

    March 31, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. connie

    I am sorry people but you can not compare union workers to executives-that is why you are an union worker stupid. The union was good at one time but in today world no more they control the auto companies they tell the companies what to do and what to sell. They make alot of money of the backs of the factory workers but big union dues. Unions today only protect the lazy workers. Most companies today know that they have treat their employees right and pay them right or they will go someplace else.

    March 31, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. Rebecca S.

    So, now we can come up with a petition to get others fired? This is nonsense. Let's remember that it's the Congress who gets their credit "scrubbed" & contribution $$ in return for legislative favors...

    March 31, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    I agree.

    March 31, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. Brian Crooks

    OK, people need to pick a side. Is it right for the government to demand responsibility at bailed out companies or is it right for the government to give them whatever they want, no questions asked? People were furious about the AIG bailout because of the bonuses, but now they want to make sure that the same people responsible for the collapse get to keep their jobs? Come on, if you drive your company into the ground and then come begging Congress for more money to keep you afloat, it's up to congress not only to decide if you get the money, but to decide if you get to keep your job. If you want to keep your job, don't ask Congress for more money. It's that simple.

    March 31, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Paul from Kissimmee

    Since when does the President have the right to fire anyone in the private sector? Am I in Cuba?

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

    What a wonderful governing strategy Mr. Obama. I demand you fire the head of the ACLU. I demand you fire the head of WAMU. I demand you fire the head of the UN. I demand you fire my lousy boss.

    March 31, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. Seth, Michigan

    While I agree that there should be one standard, and that Ken Lewis should go down if Wagoner does, I believe it is not the President's job to fire a private company's CEO. That decision should be left up to the board of directors for General Motors. I believe Obama is setting a dangerous precedent.

    March 31, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. John

    God, I just gotta laugh at the prospect of seeing these bank executives being humbled by labor unions and politcians.

    Nothing brought socialism to America faster than the disasters brought on by unregulated greed on Wall Street.

    March 31, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. Larry from RI

    When these corporations become too big to fail and get run into the ground by greedy, incompetent management then take my taxpayer money to keep from ruining the entire economy then YES, we the people in a representative government have every right to demand these same people be FIRED and if warranted, convicted and imprisoned for gross negligence!

    Anyone who thinks that these corporations which have brought this ruination upon the nation and the world should be left to continue their ways is a fool! That is not free market capitalism, rather it is more like racketeering.

    March 31, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. Larry Schlueter

    How can any labor union talk about firing other people? The head of the UAW should be gone very quickly, however, it will not happen due to BO's love of the union votes. It comes down to talking about others and not taking care of ones own area of responsibility. Union 'leaders' talk so much just like politicans and then do not perform just like politicans. It is always good for the other person, but they are not willing to contribute themselves. Isn't it a fact that the car manufacturers without the union are making profit??? Please keep talking about what the union has already given up . . . yes, they are just like the Congressmen . . . mostly talk and no giving of themselves.

    March 31, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. Paul

    I would have to agree this piece has a good point. Both CEOs should have been asked to resign.

    I think some people are confused- Obama asked a CEO that accepted federal bailout money to resign, not just some random CEO of a company that is going down the tubes. If our government is giving out our money, I dont think there is anything wrong with asking the CEO to step down. That is not socialism...

    March 31, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  20. Get Ready

    You Obama nutcases thought you were electing a Demi-God. Now, you have a government and it's leader making determinations on who should make money, who shouldn't, who's allowed to keep their job, who gets fired! And stop with the blaming of Bush...this is all about the Messiah now and his wayward decisions. Plus, the Union $$$ backers aren't real happy with the Great O. either. Much more to come...and we're only a few months in to this administration.

    March 31, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    The CEO's do need to be let go, but I trust he Unions even less. they are as coruppt as any company board room and have out grew their time. They did great things in the old days but the last few decades they have contributed to out sourcing and lay offs and company failures as much as anyone else. I know the rural county I lived in lost their only manufacturing plant due to the union going on strike 11 out of 13 years in the late 70's. If a union rep. started bugging me in the parking lot or at my home like they have in Indiana as reported recently on the news, I might have to use my first amendment fist on them.

    March 31, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. WhoCares?

    I support President Obama but the dude is dead on right.

    And to let Wagoner leave with a 20 million buyout is idiotic.

    March 31, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. Cindy

    Whoa!! Now everyone wants to play President! Every CEO will now feel the pressure of they masses screaming, "Off with his head!!!"

    Enough! There is only one President, he decides, not the unions with a grudge. Just be grateful you guys have Obama's support.

    March 31, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. Phil

    Hey folks, be happy with what you got; ‘The Socialist States of America’. These crooks and thieves got voted in by ‘We the people’. Obama, Nancy Polosi, Barney Frank, & Harry Ried told you long ago how radically they were going to govern. I just hope there is a country left to salvage by 2010. Getting some of these bums out in 2010 & 2012 will help.

    For those of you who like this kind of government; MOVE TO ARGENTINA, FRANCE, or some other crappy 3rd world country.

    March 31, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. WhoCares?

    "Since when does the President have the right to fire anyone in the private sector? Am I in Cuba?"

    As soon as these PRIVATE SECTOR companies need Taxpayer's money to stay afloat – they no longer PRIVATE COMPANIES.

    Do you understand that?

    March 31, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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