On the same day the Chicago Mercantile Exchange held its annual shareholders’ meeting, a group of 60 people from organizations like Arise Chicago, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, and the Lakeview Action Committee, claimed to have legitimately purchased shares from the CME and showed up for the conference.
Meanwhile, about 300 to 400 activists marched west from the James R. Thompson Center in the North Loop at about 4 p.m. to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, all the while condemning the CME Group for accepting tax breaks while recording profits over $1.9 billion last year.
After CME security guards removed the protesting shareholders, who called for the CME to pay its “fair share” of taxes, three of them addressed a crowd of hundreds of chanting protestors outside of the company’s downtown headquarters.
“All of us are shareholders of CME, because it’s all of our human services that are being cut because they don’t pay their fair share,” said Diane Limas, a member of Stand Up! Chicago.
Limas’ statement was echoed by numerous protestors at Wednesday’s rally, some of whom pointed to recently proposed cuts in education, health services and facilities, and even senior health programs. In short the activists said instead of providing tax relief for large companies like the CME they’d rather see lawmakers use tax money to pay for the proposed cuts.
Here's more from the rally:
A report compiled by the Pew Center on the States in April showed that Illinois and about 25 other states do not adequately track the benefits or efficacy of their corporate tax break programs.
But CME Executive Chairman and President Terrence Duffy said during the shareholder meeting it was “not true” that his company received tax breaks. In fact, he said CME was unfairly taxed in Illinois even though the majority of its business is done over the internet across state lines, according to the Chicago Tribune .
“CME’s tax breaks have affected me, my school, and my community … Our school [is] overcrowded and underfunded,” said Mauro Ortega, a Kelly High School student from Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood.
“Instead of having programs where we should be after school we’re out in the street. CME gets millions of dollars in public funds, but afterschool programs get slashed,” he said at a “People’s Shareholder Meeting” at the Thompson Center.
And in a related action, 15 protestors were arrested earlier in the day on Wednesday. Chicago police arrested the protesters for staging a sit-in on a crosswalk between Jackson and LaSalle streets outside of the Chicago Board of Trade, which is a subsidiary of the CME Group. The police cited them with obstructing traffic.