U.S., Canadian Workers Blast Golden Parachutes for Walker’s Banker Backers

In a show of cross-border solidarity today, Canadian union members joined their U.S. counterparts in a march and rally at the Vancouver, B.C., shareholder meeting of a Canadian bank that bought the Wisconsin bank where top executives gave big campaign contributions to Gov. Scott Walker (R). Those execs now are about to pop open their "golden parachutes."

In December, the Bank of Montreal (BMO) announced it was buying Marshall & Ilsley (M&I) Bank for $4.1 billion, even though the bank has underperformed by nearly 40 percent during the past four years compared with regional banks of a similar size, according to a report from the CtW Investment Group. In addition, it has yet to repay $1.3 billion in taxpayer bailout money through the TARP program.

But BMO has agreed to pay $18 million in severance payments to Mark Furlong, M&I chairman and CEO, along with $65 million in severance to 15 other M&I executives. BMO also has agreed to pay for the executives' taxes that are generated by these huge payments.


According to election records, Furlong and other M&I executives were the largest non-party donors to Walker's campaign.

After the march and rally, organized by British Columbia Federation of Labor (BCFED), Wisconsin workers-including members of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) and Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA)-entered the shareholder meeting to challenge the the multimillion-dollar payouts to the M&I executives. BMO directors are up for re-election. In a statement, the BCFED says:

Today, the BC and Canadian labor movements join with our sisters and brothers in Wisconsin and the United States to condemn the attack on workers and demand that BMO end their support of union busters like Mark Furlong and Scott Walker.

Furlong's payout is awful big for someone who "tanked" M&I's profits writes Capital Times business reporter Mike Ivey.

Furlong joined M&I in 2001 as chief financial officer and became M&I bank president in 2005. He was named CEO in 2007, replacing Dennis Kuester, who is now retired and living in a mansion in Florida.

Both Kuester and Furlong were behind M&I's strategy to get rich by making real estate loans in red hot markets like Arizona and Florida. When the bubble burst, M&I's profits tanked, taking its stock price along down. M&I shares are now worth about $7.70 today, down some 85 percent from the $50 peak back in June 2008.

AFL-CIO Now Blog, Tues Mar 22, 2011
Byline: Mike Hall

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