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Grassroots campaign targets Chase Bank – 2010 USSF

June 25, 2010

This morning about 400 people gathered at a small park on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit to march a few blocks to the Chase Bank headquarters. The march was jointly organized by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and Moratorium Now, a group working to end foreclosures, evictions and utilities.

FLOC president Baldemar Velásquez spoke to the crowd before the march began, telling people about the campaign that FLOC has against the tobacco company Reynolds American and its financial partner Chase Bank. The tobacco company pays workers unjust wages and forces workers to operate in near slave-like conditions.

As a way to pressure the tobacco company, the FLOC campaign is targeting their major financial backer, Chase Bank. FLOC organizers are calling for everyone who has money in Chase banks to withdraw their money the day after Labor Day this year. Right now the campaign is asking people to sign a pledge that they will boycott Chase if the farm workers demands are not met by the end of the summer. Here is a short video with Baldemar Velasquez addressing the crowd.

The crowd then marched to the Chase bank and stood on the steps to denounce their policies. Numerous people addressed the crowd and eventually a small delegation was allowed to go in to talk with Chase executives. After small confrontations with the bank security, delegates were allowed in to bring their demands. This next video has footage of the march, the delegation going into Chase and a representative of Moratorium Now!, a woman who had her home foreclosed.

The other group that was instrumental in organizing this march was Moratorium Now! They also addressed the audience and spoke about how Chase bank has benefited from home foreclosures. Moratorium has been organizing in Michigan for several years now and has confronted banks, landlords and utility companies.

By making the connection between farm worker rights, home foreclosure, eviction and utility rights the march organizers were able to make a stronger case for their demands and continue to develop a coalition with a more diverse group of allies that could lead to greater political power and making the changes they want.

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