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

SEIU puts pressure on Obama, Bank of America CEO

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. arithmetic is liberal

    This is unbelievable.

    I love the anti-union talking points every seems to have gotten today that they didn't have available yesterday when Wagoner was fired.

    Yes, of course. The car companies failing has everything to do with the UAW. It's all the UAW's fault. It had nothing to do with inflated CEO salaries and bonuses. It had nothing to do with Americans not producing cars for the international market. Nope! It's all those greedy middle class families that are to blame.

    You do realize that the people who are against unions would have a much easier time governing if there were no unions and no middle class in this country, right?

    Unions aren't perfect, but they're better than the alternative. Do us a favor, conservatives: go to a local book store and pick up Charles Dicken's novel "Hard Times" if you want a preview of what life would be like after unions.

    March 31, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. John W. Racine, WI

    Just to straighten things out here: President Obama ASKED Rick Wagoner to STEP ASIDE; Mr. Wagoner could very well have told him to go some place and President Obama then could NOT have done ANYTHING! Mr. Wagoner decided to resign... it was and is untimately HIS DECISION...

    Frankly, I am glad he is gone; the fact that more CEO's from the financial sector should join HIM is not lost on me here and I suspect you will see some of that in good time.

    It just seems to me that their are a lot of Americans who want a lot of "Pound of Flesh" without actually THINKING through the consequences of their rabid emotionalism...

    I also think President Obama addressed this highly emotional charged environment in one of his lastest talks with America. Let's NOT all be King George's here... think, reason, plan and then act...

    March 31, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. KW, Vail AZ

    SEIU president should concentrate on reigning in his union and not worry about how President Obama is governing. After all, union excesses are partly to blame for the failure of our auto industry.

    March 31, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. WhiteTrashNewsSucs

    They are no longer "private Companies" when they accept bailout money from the US Government. What is so hard for you idiots to understand.

    March 31, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. Wynter

    I guess people have very short memories...
    – AIG CEO... forced to resign.
    – Fannie Mae CEO... forced to resign.
    – Freddie Mac CEO.. forced to resign.

    We didnt "takeover" Bank of America as much as we did GM, AIG and Freddie and Fannie. It makes sense that the CEO is less likely to have been dumped. Since the government wasn't taking charge of the management at the time.

    If you fire everyone, then who is left to shoulder the burden? As I always say to those the screw up and try to walk away...
    "Where do YOU think your going? Get back here and DO IT RIGHT!"

    March 31, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  6. Veronica

    I agree – the financial industry collapse has affected far more people than an auto industry collapse would.

    "Washington will bailout out those who shower before work but not those who shower afterwards."
    Leo W. Gerard, International President, USW

    Truer words have not been spoken. Why do the tools in DC hate the blue-collar American?

    March 31, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  7. Jackie

    Barrack O'bama is scaring me. I fear for the direction of this country. He and Pelosi and the rest of the democrap gang are going to turn this country upside down. I don't think they care about another term in office. They did what they set out to do. Divide us further and socialize our nation. Oh GOD! Help us all.

    March 31, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Vern

    Well lets just fire them all including Andy of the SEIU!!!!!

    March 31, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. texas

    ah the cookie starts to crumble....

    March 31, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. bill

    Heads of all major unions should be fired also. Leaders of congress for past 2 years should be fired also.

    March 31, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  11. SA in OO

    You guys and gals are missing the point.

    Wagoner was asked to resign because he wasn't moving to make the changes needed for GM to survive. He couldn't understand there has been a sea change that he needed to adust his vision to meet.

    For the CEO's of all companies this will be the challenge. Business as usual with some good ole Republican style tweaking won't get in as we move to create a more sustainable economic, sociat and environmental future.

    March 31, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. Casey | Sebastopol, CA

    The list of CEOs who should be canned is probably longer than most of us know...

    Why is it that so many of us ordinary folk understand that globalization (g. merging, merging, merging) isn't a GOOD thing? The logical extrapolation of global merging is that eventually, there won't be another company or corporation to cannibalize in order to generate false profits?

    It's not rocket science. Corporate libertarianism is the root of this economic crisis here in America and across the world.

    March 31, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. Perusing-Through

    GOOD JOB MR. PRESIDENT! GM CEO Rick Wagoner is gone because he FAILED to do his homework (due by March-2009) and bring President Obama and Congress a plan which maps out GM's strategy to become viable once the economy improves. No viable plan, left President Obama 'no choice' but to relieve Wagoner. Next up!

    March 31, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  14. Karen - Missouri

    I guess no one watched the hearings on C-Span last fall with the automakers and the wild senator who openly wanted Wagoner OUT of GM. Obama didn't fire Wagoner, many others wanted him out and MANY WERE REPUBLICANS!

    and don't feel sorry for Waggoner...he leaves with $20 million and at's 30 years work and/or 55 years age for early retirement benefits. So Waggoner won't be crying in his milk...he probably welcomes the time off. He won't be pinching pennies!

    Waggoner protects his retirement by leaving now and of course he won't have to take the "heat" for the GM mess. Besides, I like the new Fritz at GM. His press conference today on C-Span was really good, more information and he explained about the government and DEFENDED it. When a bank or anyone makes a LOAN there's always conditions...your car, your home, your boat, your college loan, Whatever.

    Financial institutions are not car companies. So I understand the differences. The real problem is hedge funds.

    March 31, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. lin

    Unlike gm bank of america does not have a union!I'm tired of people bashing Lewis,as a bac stockholder,my opinion is he's doing a good job!!
    I for one hate unions!!

    March 31, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Tracy

    Union workers need to shut up and keep campaigning for Obama even though he doesn't keep his campaign promises.

    On the job training is hard.

    March 31, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. robert

    It seems that Obama is taking advise from Pelosi and other members of his administration that aren't thinking this thing through.

    March 31, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. republicans hate america

    that is because we know that the bank CEO's can and will sabotage the economy for their own vengeance. This is what happens when deregulation is allowed to run amok that you mr. Regan for screwing our country.

    March 31, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  19. Ryan

    Does Obama not know who put him in office?

    I know he does not live in reality like the rest of us, but instead in an unattainable ideology but you would think he would know where all that money came from......

    How can we trust the government to run companies when they have proved time and time again that they can not even run themselves.

    What a circus that we are stuck with until it leaves town in 2012.

    March 31, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. T from MO

    "We are preparing a decree to eliminate luxury costs – the acquiring of executive vehicles, redecorating, real estate, new headquarters, promotional material and unnecessary publicity, corporate gifts."

    After you read this quote, think about how it makes you feel about our government and their handling of this situation. If it makes you happy and you agree with it, paste it into a search engine and find out who said it then think again about how you want our country to behave.

    March 31, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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