FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, Nov 10, 2011
Teach-in and Rally Highlight Broken Promises at Chase Bank in Downtown Brooklyn
Brooklyn, NY—Downtown Brooklyn was filled with a raucous crowd of protesters this afternoon, as dozens gathered in front of JP Morgan Chase at MetroTech to demand corporate subsidies deliver good jobs. Community, labor, and Occupy Wall Street activists joined together to draw attention to Chase’s misuse of public dollars meant to retain employees in New York City.
Chase Bank was awarded a subsidy worth up to $237,700,000 from the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to move 5,000 employees to MetroTech in 1988 at a cost to the public of $51,000 per job. Since they started collecting on the subsidy, Chase made one of the largest series of layoffs in NYC history and has accepted tens of millions of more subsidies from New Jersey to move jobs out of NYC.
Activists demanded Chase give back to the community—by delivering the jobs they promised, or returning the public subsidies they’ve received. Chanting “pay it back” and “tax breaks are breaking the 99%,” the crowd tried to deliver past due notices to Chase executives.
IDAs are New York State’s main job creation tool. Nathalie Alegre, and organizer with ALIGN, cited a new report, Regional Review: Job Creation and New York’s Industrial Development Agencies, which highlights consistent problems with IDA performance in each region of the state. The NYC IDA is the largest IDA in New York, providing $143.8 million in net tax exemptions on 576 projects in 2009 alone. 48% of the projects that ended in 2009 lost jobs or failed to create jobs.
“It’s no surprise that the finance and real estate sectors dominate New York City, but what is alarming is the amount of public subsidies these highly profitable companies receive—and continue to receive—even after they break their promises,” stated Nathalie Alegre.
The rally was one of several Getting Our Money’s Worth coordinated actions happening throughout the state calling for economic development reform. It was also part of Occupy Your Block, a week of teach-ins and actions connecting Occupy Wall Street activists to longer-term community-based campaigns for social and economic justice.
An earlier teach-in of Occupy Wall Street activists at Liberty Plaza was followed by a guided tour of Downtown Brooklyn, which has experienced rapid transformation in recent years due to zoning changes and large public subsidies.
“We need to stop subsidizing corporations that do not create good jobs or broader community benefits,” said Valery Jean, Executive Director of FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality). “Too many subsidies in Downtown Brooklyn have resulted in displacement of long-time residents and small business, and even job loss in some cases. Enough is enough.”
Former Target employee Tashawna Green spoke to the crowd about her experience working for an employer who often receives subsidies, but doesn’t deliver quality jobs in return.
“Despite great sales, Target was only giving us part-time hours with no benefits, and I was struggling to get by with a small child,” Green said. “Regular people should not be supporting giant corporations that don’t respect their workers.”
Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York pointed to recent improvements in New York City’s reporting of subsidy deals.
“The transparency and accountability in the subsidy process is improving in some parts of the state, but there is clearly more work to do to ensure these deals create quality jobs and hold corporations to their promises.”
ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York’s mission is to create good jobs, vibrant communities, and an accountable democracy for all New Yorkers. Our work unites worker, community, and other allies to build a more just and sustainable New York. ALIGN was formed in April 2011 through the merger of New York Jobs and Justice and Urban Agenda. Visit www.ALIGNny.org for more information. Along with the Buffalo-based Coalition for Economic Justice, ALIGN anchors the statewide Getting Our Money’s Worth coalition.