Trump Stands Up for Bad Bankers

Richard Eskow

Richard Eskow Writer, Host, "The Breakdown;" Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

The best way to spot a con artist is by paying attention to what you don’t see, as well as to what you see. Donald Trump says he represents working people, but he has already moved aggressively to tilt the scales in favor of Wall Street’s criminal elite.

As Trump moved to rob Americans of some basic financial protections, his choice of companions only added insult to injury.

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Last year Wells Fargo became enmeshed in scandal when it was learned that 2 million false accounts were opened in its customers’ names without their knowledge. It turned out that the bank’s employees, many of whom are poorly paid and dependent on bonuses and commissions, were being threatened with loss of income or termination if they fell behind on production. Those who complained to higher-ups or authorities risked retaliation. There were reports of other unfair labor practices as well.

The bank paid a fine. In a rare moment of executive accountability, its CEO resigned and was forced to forgo some deferred income. The Department of Labor set up a special page to register employee complaints and protect whistleblowers.

The “Resources for Current and Former Wells Fargo Employees” page included links to resources for whistleblowers. It offered guidance as well as for employees who felt they had not been properly paid, had concerns about their retirement benefits or believed they had faced discrimination for race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status.

Shortly after Trump took office, Sen. Elizabeth Warren noticed that visitors to that webpage now encountered a very different message:

Page Not Found

The page you requested wasn’t found on our website. If you followed the link from another website, the link they provided may be outdated. Please check our Topics area or our A-Z Index to find what you are looking for.

In response, Sen. Warren wrote a letter to the acting Secretary of Labor  that documented past Wells Fargo offenses. She added,

I am concerned that the Department of Labor has removed the website where Wells Fargo’s employees who were victims of the company’s fraudulent actions could file labor complaints or report illegal activity. Taking down this website enables Wells Fargo to escape full responsibility for its fraudulent actions and the Department to shirk its outstanding obligations to American workers.

The Trump Administration has attempted to shift the blame by claiming that the page was taken down before the inauguration. That claim has been challenged. But the fact that the website has not been restored as of this writing suggests that the Trump team was more than happy to see it disappear.

But this vanishing act pales in comparison to those that would soon follow.

Unleashing the Fraudsters

On February 3, President Trump signed executive actions rolling back financial regulations that were put into place after Congress passed the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill in 2010.

That bill didn’t include all of the measures some believe are needed to rein in bank fraud and mismanagement. But, as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen notes, it represents an improvement over the status quo that led to the 2007-08 financial crisis. The Dodd-Frank provisions endangered by Trump’s announcement are designed to increase financial stability, reduce risky bank behavior and limit predatory mortgage lending.

Trump also moved to end something called the “fiduciary rule,” a technical-sounding name for something that serves a relatively simple goal: to prevent people who give advice about retirement accounts from having hidden financial incentives that conflict with their clients’ interests.

Bad Company

Trump didn’t just declare war on these fundamental financial protections. He also showed the public where his loyalties lay. As he announced the gutting of controls on big bankers, Trump gave a special shout-out to one of the worst of them: Jamie Dimon. As CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Dimon has led one of the most criminally inclined institutions on Wall Street. The long list of documented crimes committed under Dimon’s leadership includes money laundering for drug cartels, foreclosure fraud, and violation of sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Sudan.

Trump chose Gary Cohn, the new head of his Council of Economic Advisors, to announce the change in the fiduciary rule. Cohn is the former COO of Goldman Sachs, and one of many Trump appointees from that Wall Street powerhouse. When it comes to criminal behavior, Goldman is arguably JP Morgan’s only challenger for the title of “most corrupt” investment bank.

With these actions, Trump has let the American people know whose side he’s on, and it’s not theirs. Millions of people are now more likely to be robbed of their savings, their homes and their retirement security.

***

This has been reposted from Our Future.

Richard (RJ) Eskow is a consultant and writer. Richard blogs at Campaign for America’s Future’s:No Middle Class Health Tax and A Night Light. His website is Eskow and Associates. Follow Richard (RJ) Eskow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rjeskow  

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Campaign for America's Future

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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