With so much at stake for workers and a precedent to set for how bailout funds are used, 43 Members of Congress released a letter today asking Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to weigh in on Wells Fargo's attempt to liquidate nearly 4,000 [edited] jobs at Hartmarx. Hartmarx is the 120 year old unionized suit manufacturer that helps keep President Obama's wardrobe classy AND ethical. (Read TomP of Dkos and Progress Illinois for background on the Hartmarx situation)
In their letter today Members of Congress including former Hartmarx worker Rep. Phil Hare, Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Rep. Louise Slaughter ask Geithner:
"Given the fact that American taxpayers have provided Wells Fargo/Wachovia with $25 billion, we find it incomprehensible that it would continue to push for the loss of jobs in a viable company," the letter reads. "This is not the reason why we supported emergency measures to capitalize the banks with taxpayer dollars. The case of HartMarx must not become an unfortunate example of financial institutions failing to provide the credit envisioned by Congress to help maintain corporate operations and preserve jobs in this trying economic climate."
In their bold letter they rightly frame this request in the big picture of bailout accountability. They write;
"As you review the results of the bank "stress" tests and decide which banks need additional funds from the Treasury, we urge you to ensure that institutions provide credit to sustain American companies and the workers they employ."
"Big banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo received more than $410 billion in taxpayer bailout funds so they could remain solvent and start lending again to get the economy moving," said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). "Instead, they're freezing loans and putting small businesses in danger of closing their doors and putting workers in the unemployment line."
Meanwhile the New York Times reported today some interesting developments in the bidding process.
If you care about these workers please sign Workers United's petition to Wells Fargo. We'll be dropping them off to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf next week! Stay tuned for an exciting action.
I work for Workers United -- we are the union representing Hartmarx workers and 150,000 members around the US and Canada. So I'm biased on behalf of working people.
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