On Tuesday, April 10, BNY Mellon held their annual shareholder meeting at the William Penn Hotel. This year their meeting was anything but run of the mill. Typically, the meeting only lasts for 30 minutes as shareholders listen to recommendations from the board and take a vote. By the time the meeting is taking place most of the votes have already been cast, so the meeting itself is little more than pomp and circumstance. This year, however, One Pittsburgh forced BNY Mellon’s CEO to explain itself.
Activists gathered outside the opulent William Penn just before the 9am meeting, while our community shareholders filed into the shareholder meeting itself. Marching through the William Penn and demanding that the huge bank pay its fair share, we signaled that the day would not be business as usual. And indeed, upstairs on the 17th floor, One Pittsburgh members fulfilled their obligation as part-owners of the company by challenging many of the banks practices.
Greg Hassell, the new CEO, was taken to task over his bloated pay and the fact that the bank, which is incorporated in Delaware, doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes. He attributed his obscene $5,937 an hour to “hard work and God’s graces,” raising the question whether those who actually handle rich people’s money and who are barely getting by on the crap wages the bank pays are just lazy or damned in God’s eyes. One stockholder pointed out that he would have to work 240 years to earn what Hassell makes in just one. Students wanted to know if board member and Pitt Chancellor Nordenberg should be taking $217,000 to serve a company whose tax-dodging ways are damaging the university he is charged to lead.
After two hours, citizen shareholders could see that the Hassell’s pals on the board – the CEO’s of Tiffany, Liberty Mutual, Meadwestvaco, and others — weren’t planning to suddenly give a damn about the 99 percent, so we left them with a rousing “Pay Your Fair Share!” and adjourned. Join us next week as we let EQT just how “happy” we are with their business practices.
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