Rally blasts banks, politicians for selling out workers

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More than 100 protesters gathered outside Wells Fargo offices Wednesday demanding a “piece of the pie” for job seekers and hardworking Minnesotans.

Their demands were heard – and ignored – by actors wearing puppet masks of U.S. Representatives Erik Paulsen, John Kline, and Michele Bachmann and one of their corporate backers, Wells Fargo MN CEO and Minnesota Chamber of Commerce chair Jon Campbell.

The demonstrators marched past lunchtime crowds on Nicollet Mall chanting, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!” and “Jobs now!”

Demonstrators called on big banks and politicians to enact policies that create jobs (above) while they were mocked by actors portraying (below, from left) Wells Fargo CEO Jon Campbell, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Erik Paulsen.

“Wells Fargo continues to make billions of dollars in profit off of a taxpayer-funded bailout,” said Donna Cassutt, a spokesperson for Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, the coalition that sponsored the action.

“Working families shared a piece of the pie with them, and now, rather than sharing a piece of the pie with working families, Wells Fargo has instead foreclosed on homes, laid off Twin Cities workers, and funded job-killing politicians. It’s time Jon Campbell and Wells Fargo used their vast wealth and gratuitous tax breaks to benefit Minnesotans struggling to make ends meet, rather than taking advantage of Minnesotans by funding their political allies.”

While the crowd called for job creation and help for job seekers, the “Members of Congress” and their “corporate funder” gobbled pies and refused to share a piece with hardworking Minnesotans. Participants passed out pie-themed flyers criticizing Wells Fargo donations by its PAC and executives in support of Paulsen, Kline, Bachmann and others who have pushed federal budgets that would kill jobs in education, health care and throughout the economy with draconian cuts.

The protesters then marched down Nicollet Avenue carrying a banner reading, “Where’s our piece of the pie? Good Jobs For All.”

Participant Carri Love of New Hope said she has been looking for a job since July 1, after years of work in health care administration. Love said she was “appalled” that politicians have not taken action to help unemployed and underemployed and instead focused on budget cuts.

“We’ve already been attacked for so long, it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to climb out from the state we’re already in,” she said.

Between PAC and employee contributions, Wells Fargo has given more than $5 million to politicians, including at least $8700 to Bachmann, $12,250 to Kline, and $28,000 to Paulsen. More than $10,000 of donations to Paulsen came directly from the Wells Fargo PAC, with additional money as a personal contribution from Wells Fargo CEO Jon Campbell.

Wells Fargo laid off more than 300 Minnesota workers this spring, despite $12 billion in national profits in 2009 and 2010. According to one study, the corporation benefited from $2.5 billion in federal income tax deductions and loopholes in those years.

Minnesotans for a Fair Economy is a coalition advocating fair taxes and good jobs for all Minnesotans. Member groups include Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), ISAIAH, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), TakeAction Minnesota , and United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1189. Learn more at www.mnfaireconomy.org.