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Protesters to GE: “Enough is Enough”

Protesters to GE: “Enough is Enough”

Activist shareholders made a statement in Detroit Wednesday morning with thousands rallying outside of the General Electric shareholder’s meeting and dozens inside. GE has tried to whitewash their reputation with ads conveying worker pride and announcing hirings ahead of their annual meeting this week, but activists countered with a message for the tax dodger.

Business as usual is no longer acceptable. Just seconds into the start of the shareholder’s meeting, pastors, joined with other activists, demanded the company pay its fair share of taxes. Over the last ten years, GE paid just 2.3 percent in federal taxes. GE’s CFO Keith Sherin responded afterwards, “We absolutely are compliant with every law around the world in how we pay our taxes.”

But as Dave Johnson noted:

This is where the problem is. GE is compliant with tax laws – but they spend tremendous amounts on lobbying to influence these tax laws.

During the three year period, 2008-2010, GE spent more than $84 million in lobbyists to write legislation that benefits the Fortune 100 company.

Organizations from Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Boston and Chicago comprised the majority of activists coming from out of town and joined Good Jobs Now Detroit and local occupiers. Protesters chanted, “Hey GE, pay your fair share” and “tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.”

The police presence grew as protesters gathered outside, resulting in the police chaining and padlocking the doors as though the building might come under attack. But the nonviolent protesters’ message was about doing the right thing for the country — people before profits.

“They continue to ignore us and refuse to hear our cries,” said Kelly Albrecht, a mother of three from Wisconsin. Her family struggles to make ends meet after she lost her job. She worries that the next shoe might drop and force her out of her home. Albrecht entered the shareholders’ meeting to address these issues but security escorted her out along with the pastors. She did not find their reaction very surprising.

GE counters that they paid more than $2 billion in taxes last year. A true statement, but the tax bill was more of an anomaly for the company. The company is not alone as big banks and big telecom companies have spent millions on lobbying efforts and find themselves paying less and less in taxes while laying off workers.

MSNBC quoted Shyquetta McElroy at the protest. She is the same person who confronted GE CEO Jeff Immelt the day before.

“Basically (we are) citizens who are mistreated by corporations, by which I mean corporations moving jobs overseas, not paying taxes … just so they can get richer.” She said such practices were partly to blame for painful cuts in programs from schools to health care.

Time will tell if these types of protest will result in policy changes. What we can conclude that people are angry and will not cease just yet.

Related Stories:

Protesters Play Tax Dodgerball, GE CEO Interrupted

Activists Protest on Streets and in Board Rooms

Shareholders Say No to Big Pay at Citigroup

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21 comments

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11:58AM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

I'd be happy about the turnout if at some point we actually could see some changes.... like the tax laws getting changed with no more loopholes for corporations!

11:42AM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

So the CEO of GE has been appointed the new “job czar”. That reminds me of the old days when people warned of corporate destruction of the environment said, “They’re making money. They must be doing something right.“ When will they ever learn ?

5:22AM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

I was there, one of around 2,100 OWSersl. The crowd was fearless and very energetic. An amazing number of young African Americans Detroiters were present as well. Very inspiring and energizing. Totally peaceful, but resolute, vociferous activists made my day and then some. Around 100 prominent Detroiters (pastors, priests, etc.) got into the meeting somehow and were led out wearing their defiance on "their sleaves". I hope OWS keeps it going as long as it takes. It will be a very tough slog but we've got to keep on keeping on.

4:52PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Should be "Protesters to Obama: “Enough is Enough”......

After all - Obama appointed GE CEO Jeff Immelt, as head of his "Council On Jobs And Competitiveness".

Immelt then proceeded to create jobs - IN CHINA - by moving GE's entire X-Ray Division to China. Guess Obama forgot to tell him the jobs need to be in America, right? Or maybe it was deliberate???

In addition, Obama gave GE - get this - $500 million TAXPAYER DOLLARS just for starters - to build a new wind power farm, with a promise of another $1.2 billion!

Like GE doesn't have BILLIONS of it's own capital for a project that will eventually put profits into GE's pockets - not yours and mine - the taxpayers that are funding it!

Guess we're going to find that GE is a major Obama campaign donor.

Go figure!

And this is what the "protesters" and most bleeding hearts, will vote to continue for another 4 years!

Amazing!

1:29PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

noted

12:44PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

I used to work for GE until I was laid off last year. I used to make $100,000 with them and now I don't have enough to live on. I paid 28% in taxes and they paid what? 2%? Terrific. People keep protesting.

12:07PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Hurrah for Shyquetta McElroy- definitely she is telling it like it is!

9:33AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

My long time tax account is very far right and tries to engage me in political discussions every year when I go in to have my taxes done. I've dealt with him forever and actually really like him except for this one annoying habit. This year, just when I thought I'd made it through the process without a political "argument" - on leaving he shakes my hand and tries to engage - he says, "So, do you think you paid your fair share this year? I'm asking everyone if they think they did and everyone says they think they paid too much." I smiled and said, "Well, I'm depending on you that I paid my LEGAL share, whether or not it's fair depends on your point of view." That's the problem. Fair and legal are two very different things, especially for those at the top of the pile. (I'm not, by the way) Our tax code is in dire need of reform. Let's make sure the Dems do it in the next couple of years, not the Teapublicans.

8:53AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Thank you for the article...

7:25AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Just ONE more example of the disconnect of the rich from the rest. We need term limits, limits on campaign and lobbyist contributions, a fair tax system, and the right to a meaningful vote.

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