Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Friday, April 22, 2011

Time to start speaking their language

Here's a magical story from the land of Disney, central Florida:

Unions representing Central Florida teachers, firefighters, police and other government workers are pulling an estimated $10 million from five banks affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, blaming them for an attack on public employees.

The unions are also asking their members — an estimated 20,000 people — to withdrawal their personal money from Bank of America, PNC Bank, Regions Bank, SunTrust and Wachovia. And labor leaders across the state could follow in the coming weeks, union officials say.

Executives from the banks in question sit on the Florida Chamber's board of directors, and the chamber has pushed legislation that would prohibit state and local governments from collecting union dues through payroll deduction.

Supporters say the "Paycheck Protection" act would allow public employees to prevent their wages from being used for political purposes, but opponents say it's simply a labor-busting effort that would make it more difficult for unions to operate.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce has lobbied lawmakers in support of the legislation and broadcast a campaign-style ad pushing for it. The measure has already passed the Florida House and is moving forward in the Senate.

At a news conference scheduled for today, unions representing public employees in Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties will announce the plan to close bank accounts containing their members' dues and advise workers to do the same.

"This is not an attack on business," said Steve Clelland, president of the Orlando firefighters' union. "The very money we deduct is sitting in their banks. Nothing is more American than not doing business with someone who is not serving you well."

The combination of union and personal accounts will likely top $10 million in Central Florida, Clelland said, and more as labor groups in other parts of the state follow.

"It's a shame that unions have dragged banks into their political games," Florida Chamber spokeswoman Edie Ousley. "This just goes to show how desperate they are to keep the union gravy train by using the state of Florida to collect union dues. Frankly, we expected these bully tactics a long time ago."

But Jeanette Wynn, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Florida, noted that as Florida Chamber board members, the bank executives helped shape the business group's political agenda. Some 20,000 AFSCME members pay dues that are kept in Wachovia accounts.

"Wachovia Bank is not only a dues-paying member of the Chamber of Commerce, they have a seat on the board of directors," she said. "AFSCME Council 79 will no longer do business with banking institutions that directly advocate against the best interest of the middle class."

While it's true that the super-rich already have most of the wealth in the U.S., they're still desperate to get what can still be extracted from the rest of us. Clearly losing a big union pension fund account hurts any bank. Yet even relatively small accounts generate a lot of fee revenues. In fact, a struggling middle class customer is a real gold-mine: bouncing checks, making "excessive" withdrawals of her own money in a given month, these "careless" actions are harder to avoid for a secretary than for a CEO. A customer who is lucky enough to consider buying a $5,000 CD knows how much the bank makes off her business. The bank lends out her money through credit cards, at an average rate well over 20%. The best return she'll find on this hypothetical CD is significantly less than 3%.

For years now, the big banks have called those of us who enter their branches in person "entrenched transactors," and not "customers." A live transaction requires paying a teller or manager, and is less profitable than online and ATM banking. Not too long ago, I was in line at a big bank and the very pleasant manager asked why I was there. I explained that I needed to deposit a check and get part of it back in cash. She sweetly told me that I could do all that at the ATM now. I responded by telling her that I liked her and her colleagues in the branch, and I hoped that they would all still have jobs there for years to come. She looked as startled as could be, but she soon relaxed and grinned when she heard all the other "entrenched transactors" laughing along with me.
The supermarket I mostly frequent has more self-scan checkouts available than live cashiers. All the managers know better, now, than to steer me out of line to the wide open spaces of the self-scanners. They, and the cashiers, all give me a friendly grin when I'm in the store. The plutocrats may well succeed in destroying us. We're not obliged to do their job for them.


cranstonista said...

I hadn't heard that entrenched transactor one before. I just go in for the lollipop, lol

Motivated In Ohio said...

I am also an "entrenched transactor". One time I was in line at the supermarket, and they tried to get me to go through the self scanner, since I only had one item. I made the person directing me their to scan it. If we as Americans become so greedy that we can't afford the couple of cents added to our purchase to employ a fellow American, I think we are screwed.

Motivated In Ohio said...

I meant there instead of their. Oops.

Ulysses said...

Good to hear, Motivated. This common-sense behavior needs to be adopted by more patriotic Americans.
Sometimes "convenience" isn't really in our best interest.

Underground Politics said...

Very good article. I never really thought that way about all of the electronic ways we have to do our errands. I'm going to start supporting the people instead of the machines whenever I can. And I don't blame the unions for doing what they are. These politicians aren't really leaving them with any choice.