March 31st, 2009
04:24 PM ET
8 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. Martin

    SEIU is a reckless, self-serving entity that cares little for its membership once they are signed on and paying dues. They have repeatedly tried, and FAILED, to unionize workers in Florida. Sensible people do not choose to follow them.

    Anyway, who cares if their leaders chose to endorse the candidate that ultimately won the White House. This should mean nothing to the President if he is to remain true to his ideal of not pandering to special interests.

    March 31, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Voter

    This is what you get for your stupid, short-sighted hero-worship attitude toward Obama.

    Obama is a politician, people! Just like all the others.

    You wanted it, you got it.

    Stop whining and pay attention next time out.

    March 31, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. Johnny 2 in Kalamazoo

    Fire the slobbering queen Barney Frank & the crook Chris Dodd AND THEN fire the UAW union thugs.

    If 0bama has the guts to do that, he will have earned my vote. So far I am very dissapointed.

    March 31, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  4. PJP

    Seth, Michigan March 31st, 2009 5:15 pm ET

    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
    Me thinks the power has gone to his head!!!!!!!

    March 31, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. Fnord-asaurus Rex

    I'm not sure why this would surprise anybody. The banks and the Federal Reserve essentially run the country. If a polititian does anything that the banks don't like, all they have to do is stop loaning money and the economy starts to collapse. Wall street loses "confidence" in the markets and stocks fall.
    Here's the truth: the economy does not exist in a real sense. Maybe we should blame the falling stocks on the Media. You can't turn on a TV without some pundit talking about how bad things are. Eventually people will start believing that things really are bad. Why? because all the "sheeple" only get their info from TV.
    Our money is only worth as much as we believe its worth. Why not just print a boatload of cash and give it to everybody. No one will be poor and we can all "believe" that one dollar is worth ten.
    Since it's all fake anyways, we can just make it all up as we go along. Thats what the FED and Wall street does.

    March 31, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. Debra

    Hard to believe a President can fire anyone...Scary. BofA's board should have gotten rid of Mr. Lewis long ago. His company is being made whole by the tax payers not by any great quality or insight he has shown. We can clearly see that as usual "White Collar" wins out over "Blue Collar". At least the automakers tried to spread the wealth around to the workers. The same can't be said for the banking industry. The only way the taxpayer can make them ALL pay is by NOT utilizing loans or debt. Since the main source of revenue for the financial services industry comes from lending. The less we borrow the less they make.

    March 31, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. lynn in NM

    Has anyone checked the campaign donations?

    March 31, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. arithmetic is liberal

    Get Ready March 31st, 2009 5:17 pm ET

    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…

    Good. I'm glad we can agree now, based on your argument, that 9/11/2001 was George W. Bush's fault.

    March 31, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. JOE

    Obama will go on Jay Leno again and, you will all forgive him..

    March 31, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  10. Joe

    Agree with the SEIU spokesperson. But to the list must be added the head of the UAW union. He has to go also.

    March 31, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Sammy

    Resigning was a condition of the agreement between the government and GM. Pres. Obama did not "fire" him.

    I believe that the same principles and conditions should be applied to the wall st. bailouts. There should be resignations assigned as a condition of receiving the bailout money.

    Does this action scare me? Not particularly – if we – the US taxpayers and government – owns a majority share, they should have some say. It's a business agreement, not unlike 100's of others performed every year.

    March 31, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Lynn

    Have any of you perpetual naysayers and the pundits criticizing the president's move to ask for the resignation of Wagner actually been party to the meetings and talks concerning the restructuring of GM?? Could it vbe that Wagner was not bold enough in cutting costs and making changes? Perhaps he was the one blocking needed changes.

    An interview of the chief financial officer of GM, no matter how hard Blitzer was in trying him to say something negatibe about the president's and his commiytee., he was very positivbe avbout both.s actions

    March 31, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. joe, Florida

    That I don't agree to. It's not the President's job to fire private industry executives. One is more than enough, and it could a set a very dangerous precedent. This is still Capitalism, DO NOT BE confused on that. It's not a perfect system, but it's better than the alternatives.

    March 31, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. jfs Memhis, Tn

    FOLKS the Unions are a drop compared to Huge Salaries, Uncontrolled Bonuses and the GREED of the few who call themselves Corporate and Financial Executives !!! At least the Unions spread the same unjustified wealth amongst MANY.

    March 31, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. RB

    I agree with firing CEO's. If you or I don't perform the job we have been hired to do, or do it in a way that hurts the company, we get fired and replaced. Why is there this belief in the wealthy class that they are infallible and above all the rules of basic corporate standards?

    March 31, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. No Incumbents 2010

    I am always hearing of the Hypocrisy of the Right. I remember how disturbed and down right agitated the Left was when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers back in the 80's. The air traffic controllers worked for the US government and the President had the right to fire them. Now we have a President who believes it is his right to muscle out a CEO from the private sector – He Doesn't!
    Where is the outrage for this? I see people wanting him to fire a bank CEO or the head of UAW, but I do not see the outrage that the President had NO BUSINESS doing anything period! Wake Up AMERICA! How BIG does the Federal government have to get before we say ENOUGH? Stop Socialism now!

    March 31, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Cynobia

    What's fair is fair, whats good for the goose is good enough for the gander. Let's clear the table meaning fire all the CEOs and start over.

    Proud daughter of a UAW worker for 15 yrs

    March 31, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. chris b

    It's NOT the president's job to fire CEOs.
    I said since August a vote for Obama is a vote for SOCIALISM.
    For all those that dont agree:
    Keep drinking that kool aid folks......

    March 31, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. Terry in Iowa

    How quickly we forget. The precedent was sent long before Obama. Freddie Mac, Fanny May and AIG's CEOs were all forced out by that socialist GW Bush.

    In addition, Obama asked for Wagoner's resignation, he didn't fire him.

    You may want to get your facts right before you embarrass yourselves

    March 31, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. S Callahan

    Andy is right...the banks are the money to fund mortgages they knew were risky (just one of many things)...and it's not just one bank (look at the credit cards companies as well)...
    What's good for the goose is good for the gander as well. Make it fair.

    March 31, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |

    Let's stop acting like this is the first time something like this has happened. Didn't Bush and Paulson pick the new CEO of AIG? And wasn't the CEO of CityBank pretty much forced out of his position?

    March 31, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. Perusing-Through

    Last year when Congress and especially Southern Republicans were ready to dump GM & Chrysler, it was President-Elect Obama that asked Republican Senator Richard Shelby and Congress to give GM & Chrysler some time and money ($Billions) until March-2009 to come up with a plan that would make GM & Chrysler competitive. GM CEO Rick Wagoner failed to bring his homework (e.g. a good plan) for Obama and Congress to review. Now Wagoner is out. Enough said!

    March 31, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. AnIndependent

    I totally agree. The auto industry has been made a scapegoat while the banking industry has been allowed to retain the same CEOs who orchestrated this massive failure. BTW some of them (like Mozillo of Countrywide) have also retained their salaries and bonuses while they acted in a criminal manner. Let's see if we can get the DOJ to prosecute some of these men/women. But let's also remember that some of the investment houses (Lehman's, Bear Stearns, and Merrill Lynch) have vanished – never to be heard from again. What about the execs from these companies – have they gone on to work for other companies?

    March 31, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  24. Mike Smith

    @ jfs Memhis, Tn

    Quality is the problem here. We would consume American goods if we perceived them to be appropriately priced and valuable. When we only buy American, we remove the competition that drives innovation. We give American producers no incentive to keep up with global competition. We make American product less competitive and valuable.

    I say Buy Best, and hope that American goods will find a way to reach top standards.

    March 31, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  25. ny78

    Though it's true both Rick Wagoner and Ken Lewis deserve to be fired, i'm just surprised at why it has to be the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES that has to do the firing. Correct me if i'm wrong but are we still not a democracy or did i just miss something and is our country moving toward socialism. What happened to free enterprise?

    March 31, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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