Union: Don't Let BofA CEO Keep Ginormous Pension

Outgoing Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis looked like he had a pretty sweet deal, with the $53 million pension he’s due to get when he walks. Hold on, says one union, in a letter to White House “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg: “The American people are counting on you to reform the reckless culture of Wall Street that allows bank executives to drive our economy into the ground and walk away with millions.”

When you factor in additional goodies offered by the bank, Lewis’ retirement package may total over $125 million. And the the labor group, the Service Employees International Union, wants to see some government action on that, requesting that Lewis’ pension be withheld until BofA agrees to a list of reforms, including stopping foreclosures, offering affordable loans to local governments, and lowering interest rates on credit cards. The letter to Feinberg from the Union’s Secretary-Treasurer, says, in part:

I ask that you take immediate action on the multimillion-dollar retirement package being offered to one of the chief architects of the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis. …

The housing crisis created by Bank of America and other banks has created severe budget crises for state and local governments-and even though they continue to receive taxpayer support, Bank of America and other large banks’ lending decisions have forced states and cities to lay-off workers and cut critical public services. …

Taxpayers have already provided nearly $200 billion in bailouts and backstops to Bank of America. This enormous public investment entitles taxpayers to have a say in the bank’s executive compensation practices. …

Immediate action by your office will set a precedent that no bank executive will receive compensation packages until they put policies in place to create jobs, allow homeowners to retain their homes and support state and local governments.

Although Feinberg has the authority to issue “advisory opinions” about executive compensation, it’s not clear whether he actually has any say over Lewis’ retirement package. Hold on, focusing, focusing. There. Yeah, it’s clear. Congrats, Ken. Sweet deal.

Tell Feinberg: Stop Payment on the Ken Lewis Bailout [SEIU.org]
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