2:57 PM Eastern - Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Reality Check for AIG

rallyaig.jpgWe've just returned from our local AIG headquarters here in D.C., where around 130 people stood in the rain to take part in our Take Back the Economy day of action. Demonstrators held signs, sang songs, and presented AIG with a "reality check" worth billions of dollars from the American people.

Several people spoke, including SEIU President Andy Stern, who had this to say about AIG and other bailout recipients:

We own this company. And we didn't buy it to have them hand out million dollar bonuses. And I'll tell you this. It's not good enough to get just half the bonuses back. We want it all back, and we want it now.

We learned today that Citibank, who's gotten $45 billion of our money, is still going to spend $10 million to remodel their executive suite. Now I've been in the executive suite at Citigroup, and it is sweet. But remodeling the executive suite is like remodeling the Titanic before it sank. We don't need remodeling, we need our money back, we need home loans, we need jobs, we need fair pay for every American to get ahead

Watch the video here:

And here are some pictures of the rally:


To read the full transcript of Andy's speech, please read the extended entry.

Here's Andy's full speech:

We're here today for a very simple reason. We love our country. We happen to think America is a gift, and it's greatest gift has been that people who work hard, take responsibility for their family, are able to have a chance at the middle class. But most importantly, they get to see their children lead a better life than their parents.

Is that the American dream? Is that the dream we love? We're here today because after 25 years of corporate excess, of greed, of speculation, these corporate leaders have brought the greatest economy on earth to its knees. Is that the America we want?

We're here today and in 30 states around the country, from Miami to Missoula, to say that it is time to end an economy that only work for some, and make this an economy that works for all Americans. Is that right?

I've got to tell you, I'm sick and tired of Ken Lewis and the Bank of America. They made $135 million in profits In the last 10 years. Ken Lewis has made $35 million in salary in the last two years, and we have to bail him out. Is that merit pay?

And the tellers here, up and down Washington D.C. who work for the Bank of America, make poverty wages. That's not an economy that's going to work for America, is it?
And what about AIG? We own this company. And we didn't buy it to have them hand out million dollar bonuses. And I'll tell you this. It's not good enough to get just half the bonuses back. We want it all back, and we want it now.

The last thing I want to say about AIG is restitution is not enough. We need prosecution, of the CEOs and all the people that stole our money.

Last thing I'm sick and tired of is Citibank. We learned today that Citibank, who's gotten $45 billion of our money, is still going to spend $10 million to remodel their executive suite. Now I've been in the executive suite at Citigroup, and it is sweet. But remodeling the executive suite is like remodeling the Titanic before it sank. We don't need remodeling, we need our money back, we need home loans, we need jobs, we need fair pay for every American to get ahead.

And Citigroup, not only is remodeling their executive suite, it has time to host conference calls to tell people why they should be against the Employee Free Choice Act, why we shouldn't level the playing field, why we shouldn't hold corporate executives accountable. Is that what we expect them to do with our money?

So here we are. Now, they gave out a lot of checks at AIG. Well, we have a check. It's a reality check.

And we want to deliver it on behalf of the American people to AIG. And we want to tell them that we want an economy that works for everyone. We want an economy that provides healthcare. We want Francisco and all the people that lost their homes to get them back. We want good jobs, we want the American dream. It's time, our time, this is the moment, an economy that works for everyone. Let's give them a reality check.


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