Chicago community activists and local elected officials delivered 88,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) regional office Thursday morning, urging the agency to investigate complex financial agreements called interest rate swaps.
Those who delivered the petition signatures, collected online by the Grassroots Collaborative and several other organizations, say cash-strapped local and state governments are being squeezed by the "toxic swaps" they entered into with banks before the Great Recession. The complicated deals, which come with hefty penalties and termination fees, were intended to save taxpayer-backed organizations money, but they backfired when the economy crashed.
The Fight for $15 campaign came out in force Thursday night to protest against McDonald's, Bank of America and Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin. Progress Illinois provides highlights from the downtown demonstration.
The Chicago Teachers Union held a massive downtown rally Thursday evening, during which 16 people were arrested for protesting inside Bank of America. Progress Illinois was there for the demonstration.
One day after Chicago Public Schools officials announced $100 million in proposed budget cuts, the Chicago Teachers Union closed its Bank of America account on Wednesday in protest over the controversial interest rate swap agreements held between the bank and school district.
CTU says cash-strapped CPS, which is facing a $480 million budget hole this fiscal year, has lost more than $502 million to "predatory" swap deals with financial institutions, including Bank of America. According to the union, Bank of America has collected $77 million in profits off of its interest rate swaps with CPS.
"What we hope is that our withdrawal of funds will spark people all over this city, all over this state and all over the country to start withdrawing funds from Bank of America until they give back some of the ill-gotten gains they've made off the backs of our students," CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said outside the Bank of America at 135 S. LaSalle St.