Awesome activism from members of the Sheetmetal Workers union (SMWIA), 200 of whom burst into a private meeting of mortgage bankers to protest layoffs by a homebuilding company that got a $900 million in federal funds intended for job creation. The banksters fled the scene, though one said he would have engaged the workers if they had “worn a suit.” (Watch CNBC’s coverage of the protest at the top of this post.)
The protest — aimed at the Pulte Group, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders — quickly turned into a scrum as workers wearing hardhats and shouting through bullhorns overwhelmed the security staff at the JW Marriott, bursting into a crowded conference room before a stunned crowd of bankers.
Shouting “Where are the jobs?” and “Where is the money?” the protesters from the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, many in overalls and helmets, said taxpayers have provided $900 million in tax breaks to Pulte with the aim of creating jobs. They said they haven’t seen the results they were promised.
“Those tax breaks were supposed to create jobs,” Wayne Peworchik, one of the protesters, said. “That was President Obama’s and Congress’s intent.”
“Instead, Pulte laid off workers,” Peworchik said.
Hilariously, the banksters fled. Scared of the little people, obviously. Tweets from Jon Prior, a reporter in the room, wrote that “banksters and regulators fled” upon the start of the protest:
Even better: the banksters say that they’d have engaged with the workers if they had “worn a suit and asked a question without making a scene.” These fucking guys!
PaulVA at Daily Kos has background on Pulte’s abuse of taxdollars meant for job creation:
Tucked within the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009 (WHBA) was a tax carry-back provision. It allows homebuilders to count the losses of 2008 and 2009 against taxes paid up to 5 years ago—during their peak profit years. In short, the act allowed for a big tax refund pay-off for big builders, particularly the biggest of them all, PulteGroup.
During PulteGroup’s fourth quarter 2009 earnings call, the company announced that it expected a tax refund of approximately $955 million, $917 million of which would come from the tax loss carry back . Several months later, PulteGroup received $880 million in tax refunds for 2009 thanks to the net operating loss (NOL) tax carry back provision of the Act.
The WHBA Act was intended by Congress and President Obama as a job creation measure. The fact sheet on the legislation stated, “Today President Obama signed legislation to help create jobs by providing tax cuts for homebuyers and businesses, while providing much-needed support for workers who are still struggling to find jobs.”
Later in 2009, an investment analyst from Barclays Capital asked Pulte’s CEO what the company’s priorities were for allocating their cash, which after the tax refund would be close to $3 billion in cash. In his response, CFO Roger Cregg mentioned land, land acquisition, and debt restructuring – but not job creation.
On November 3, 2010, Putle’s CEO announced “approximately $7 million for employee severance and related cost, associated with organizational changes and operations realignment implemented during the quarter.” Just recently, Pulte laid off another 350 workers at a plant in Phoenix, AZ.
More of this, please.