Ben Horowitz from Painter and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 15, sends us this report from Michigan I want to share.
In Romulus, Mich., seven community members linked arms and refused to leave the street outside the Detroit Airport Marriott, blocking a bus they believed was carrying PulteGroup's board of directors. Minutes later, while the Romulus 7 were taken away in handcuffs, the PulteGroup board sat inside, still not held accountable for the $880M tax refund they ostensibly received for job creation.
The money came to Pulte thanks to the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009. This Act was intended to create jobs and extend benefits to the unemployed. Instead, PulteGroup is spending the cash on debt buy-downs and land, while increasing the ranks of the unemployed by laying off employees.
The Rev. Charles Williams II, who was arrested by Romulus police, summed it up this way:
I believe Pulte's acceptance of $880 million taxpayer dollars is unethical and should be illegal. And if it takes me getting in their way of business as usual to make the Board of Directors do the right thing, then I'm willing to do that. We're calling on Pulte shareholders and our federal legislators to make Pulte do the right thing -- use the money to create jobs, or give it back.
Some 200 more union members, community activists and other allies remained outside, holding signs demanding answers and chanting:
Where are the jobs? Where is the money?
As states across the country grapple with deficits and contemplate tax cuts of their own, the Building Justice campaign by the Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA) and IUPAT District Council 15 with the support of the AFL-CIO has followed PulteGroup executives across the country to remind taxpaying Americans that money for job creation needs to come with accountability. In January of 2011, activists interrupted a conferenceof mortgage executives being led by Debra Still, Pulte Mortgage's director.
Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO President Saundra Williams said:
We have shown up at virtually every public event attended by Pulte executives to ask one simple question. Where did the money go that Pulte got from the federal government to create the jobs? There needs to be accountability here.