May 09 2012

Huge Protests at BofA Shareholder Meeting Today. Pay Packages Approved, Proposals Defeated.

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Bank Of America Protests Begin At Shareholder Meeting

Activists from Occupy Wall Street, the environmental movement and labor unions, along with victims of home foreclosures, have begun massive demonstrations at Bank of America’s shareholder meeting in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday morning.

[ … ]

Inside the Bank of America meeting, disgruntled shareholders [ … ] will force votes on proposals [ … ]

Outside the meeting, protesters promise a boisterous slate of events to draw attention to Bank of America’s relationship with the federal government, the coal industry and its long record of foreclosure abuse. Occupy Atlanta’s Tim Franzen said there are three marches planned, each with its own theme: the bank’s environmental record, the housing crisis and corporate accountability issues. The marches will converge into one big protest.

Protests Inside the Meeting

Moynihan used a timer to limit the amount of time that shareholders were allowed to speak.   Some shareholders were turned away and not allowed to enter.  Electronic devices and recording devices were banned from the meeting.  

About 100 protesters were inside the meeting and they said that they could hear the drumming and chanting outside.

Bank of America CEO Faces Shareholder Ire Amid Protests

Moynihan presided as shareholders pressed him on complaints ranging from mortgage practices and foreclosures to customer service and political contributions. One attendee at the headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, lamented the lost value of his shares and referred to the bank as “a felon.”

[ … ]

“You’ve got to do something about your mortgage servicing,” one speaker told Moynihan. The CEO told borrowers in the hall and “everyone out there” that he personally pledged the bank would work with them. “You can call us and we will figure it out,” he said, eliciting laughter in the audience as he encouraged them to call a toll-free number. Moynihan said a million modifications have been completed, “and I don’t think we could have done that without being competent.”

“You are part of the poisoning of Appalachia and so is every one of your directors and so is every one of your shareholders,” Kincaid said. “You are part of the destruction of an entire region of the country.”

“Sir, our environmental team will take a look at it. We look at it all the time,” Moynihan said. The crowd responded with jeers.


Update 2: Reports of contentious interactions inside the shareholder meeting. One shareholder reportedly commented, “I’m of the judgment that Bank of America is a felon,” adding, “I don’t believe that Bank of America would be here today without the 99% of taxpayers that bailed out Bank of America. The $45 billion that you received pales behind the hundreds of billions that were guaranteed in bonds, commercial paper, and the list goes on and on.”


Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Meeting is moving quickly. #BofA CEO Moynihan did not speak long on state of the company, talked about need for an orderly meeting.

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Appears that most shareholders in here are activist-minded. Lots of applause for criticisms. #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Shareholders commenting/questioning about mortgage servicing and political spending. Moynihan giving very short answers. #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

“I’d like a little bit more thoughtful response,” shareholder tells Moynihan, to applause, on servicing. He obliges. #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Moynihan says bank has increased servicing staffing by 20k, repeatedly reviewed, and “doing everything we can.” #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Meeting now turned into people sharing their individual problems on mortgages. Moynihan directing them to give name/# to team outside. #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Moynihan defends exec pay, says most is performance linked and aligned with shareholder interests. #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Several have asked why people have to come to shareholder meeting to be heard. Laughter when Moynihan says 1-800 number works well. #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

People are becoming more restless, starting to shout over Moynihan as he gives answers. Lots on his statement on payday loans. #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Moynihan says will take questions for a few more minutes and then close. Some people have taken mic multiple times. #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Last commentor: “This is America… Listen to the people in the room.” Moynihan says he has listened carefully. #BofA

Andrew Dunn ‏ @andrew_dunn

Meeting over. Activists shouting (mic check) as they leave. #BofA


Protests Outside the Meeting

A news conference was held early in the morning, around 7:30 a.m.,  and protesters staged a boxing match between a faux Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, and a woman with the name “Miss 99% Power”.

At 8:30 a.m., three different marches began, billed as “The Showdown in Charlotte”.  One march with the theme of “Housing Justice Now” began at North Tryon and 9th streets.  The second march was themed “Worker’s Rights” and it began at old City Hall on East 4th and Davidson streets.  The third march with the theme of “Anti-Coal Investment” started South Tryon Street at the Green.  The destination of all the marches was the barricaded Bank of America headquarters building and they arrived around 9 a.m.

Protests were staged at the BofA headquarters for a couple of hours and traffic was blocked at the intersection  after which protesters marched to the Bank of America stadium where they chanted “we’ll be back” in reference to the Democratic National Convention in September.

Estimates on the number of protesters vary from hundreds, to 1000, to a comment in The Nation story based on a tweet from NBL saying that police estimated the crowd size to be 2000-3000.

4 arrested at Bank of America protest

An estimated 500 to 750 protesters marched from three directions on the Bank of America Corp. headquarters Wednesday morning, blocking the intersection of 5th and College streets while dozens of police watched nearby. At least four people were arrested.

[ … ]

Shortly after 10 a.m., police arrested several men after they tried to enter the shareholders meeting. The men said Bank of America had foreclosed on their homes. One was identified at Johnny Rosa of Framingham, Mass.

Some of the chants heard outside:

“Bank of America, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side!”

“Whose streets? Our streets!”

“I pay, you pay, why doesnt BoA?”

“What goes up, must come down. Tear the banks to the ground!”

“The people united will never be defeated”

“workers on the march today, BoA has got to pay”

Shareholders Approve Moynihan’s Pay Package

According to Fortune Magazine, Brian Moynihan is the worst performing CEO based on stock performance.  

Fortune reports that Moynihan took a $3 million pay cut over his compensation for 2010, for a $7 million payout in 2011. The Wall Street Journal describes the pay package like this:

$6 million in restricted stock and $950,000 in a base salary. He was awarded no cash bonus, while several of his top lieutenants received bonuses.

Reuters, however, reports that Moynihan will now receive $8.1 million in 2011, an increase of $1.9 million over 2010.  

In any case, the shareholders approved it, which was expected.  The large proxy advisory firms had advised the shareholders they service to vote yes on the pay package and the Wall Street Journal is reporting that it was passed with 92% approval by shareholders.  The proxy firms argued for BofA saying that the bank’s plan was superior to other banks in coupling pay to performance.  The bank’s nominees for the board were also approved.

Shareholder Proposals Defeated

While the official webcast of Bank of America’s shareholder meeting was dominated by comments from disgruntled shareholders, preliminary results indicated that all of the shareholder proposals to change the bank’s operations were defeated.  


These types of proposals are very difficult to pass, but sometimes the protests motivate bank officers to change their policies, so they are not futile.

Trillium Asset Managment sought to “bar the company from making contributions to politically oriented groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce” and another large institutional investor for pension plans sought requirements for BofA to disclose its political spending.  Another shareholder proposal involved requiring BofA to review its foreclosure practices.  According to the reports, all of these proposals were defeated.

Shareholders Turned Away

Information from Liz Rose of Campaign for America’s Future :

I just got a call from the Bank of America’s shareholder meeting in Charlotte from Richard Eskow, a writer for the Campaign for America’s Future. Richard represents 82,000 shares of investor stock of BoA and yet he was turned away with 40 other shareholders just now and he and the others were asked to leave BoA property. Some shareholders who were turned away were elderly.


Heavy Security

Sara Shaw

‏ @Sara_Jeans

Security is so tight that stockholders are forced to wait in line outside. They cant help but see & hear the power of the people #makeboapay



“3 helicopters here now, one not in frame. Is this much spending necessary? #makeboapay”


Allison Kilkenny:

I previously wrote about the extraordinary measures the City Manager of Charlotte, Curt Walton, has taken to ensure one of the largest banks in the world won’t have its peace disturbed by a group of enthusiastic citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. Walton has unilaterally declared the shareholder meeting an “extraordinary event,” meaning the city plans to restrict free speech and expand the ability of police and security forces to target activists.

The city of Charlotte is preparing for the protest with a preemptive civil liberties crackdown that will likely provide some insight into the city’s tactics for coping with the Democratic National Convention in September. Under the rules, protesters can be arrested or searched for carrying bags with the “intent” to conceal any of a host prohibited items, which range from weapons to commonplace markets. Wearing a scarf with the intent to conceal one’s identity is also grounds for arrest under the rules.



NCACP lists a plethora of complaints against BoA, including the facts that the bank is the leader in home foreclosures and funding of the US coal industry, and a huge job killer (100,000 workers have been let go over the past several years). Meanwhile, BoA’s top five executives rewarded themselves with over $500 million in bonuses, while the bank saddled students with a lifetime of debt.

And the checklist of grievances goes on.


Info from Sites Posting Updates


10:30am: Arrests have been made as victims of Bank of America foreclosures attempt to enter the meeting.

9:30am ET: After several marches converged earlier this morning, at least 1000 people are currently occupying the intersection of 5th and college in front of the Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina in a peaceful sit-in protest. About a 100 shareholders who support the movement are inside as heavily armed police guard the BoA building.

The Nation:

10:40 Arrests at BOA meeting in Charlotte (see below).  One of them, Johnny Rosa, a BOA foreclosure victim,  tells Huff Post: “I just want to stop what they are doing.”

9:40  Frequent updates on BOA protest in Charlotte here.   Such as:  “Stephen Lerner, a member of the executive board at the Service Employees International Union, and a frequent target of attacks from hardline conservative media a sends an update: ‘We have moved into streets.. Shutting down key intersections. Cops mellow so far.'”




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Last but not least, here is another accomplishment that I believe can be credited to Occupy Wall Street.

Aaron Krager:

This is turning into a very different kind of shareholder season, one that is every bit as much about civic concerns as it is about the price of any stock, as investors have been denied admission to their own annual meetings amid concerns over surrounding protests.

That is the opening paragraph from Fortune. A stark reality for corporations as the growing discontent from activists has moved into the boardroom. Progressive activists around the country will probably smile at the lede believing times are beginning to change.

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