Labor Group Withdraws From Big Banks

Rally through downtown San Diego prepares bank customers to move into credit unions

A group of labor activists marched to Downtown’s biggest banks Wednesday to support a nationwide-movement away from private banks.

“Withdrawal Wednesday” was organized by the San Diego and Imperial County Labor Council. The group held a rally in Civic Center Plaza, where Occupy San Diego protesters have been demonstrating for the past month.

Police closed down part of B Street for the rally and march. Despite the goal of the rally to encourage the public to withdrawal from their big banks into non-profit credit unions, very few actually moved their money at Wednesday’s rally.

Sandy Naranjo hoped to transfer her account from Wells Fargo to a credit union Wednesday, but was turned down due to a pending expense. Naranjo said she will try again Thursday because she does not approve of the bank’s fees on her account.

“Even though not a lot of people showed up today, there’s still a lot of us marching in solidarity with those who want to,” she said.

Many of the labor activists at the rally said they already conduct their banking with a credit union, but were mostly hoping to convince the public to do the same.

The rally was intended to prepare people for the November 5 “Bank Transfer Day,” said Lorena Gonzales, CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.

Gonzales said transitioning bank accounts requires extensive planning, so raising awareness during the week is a way to organize the movement. Gonzales also transferred her money out of Wells Fargo into a smaller account during the rally Wednesday. Her reasons for transferring were in line with the Occupy movement’s objections to big banks, she said.

“Big banks caused this economic crisis,” Gonzales said. “They benefitted from predatory loans, and now people are getting kicked out of their homes. There’s something wrong with that.”

An employee in front of Bank of America on B St. said the branch experienced the same amount of activity as usual during the rally.

A Bank of America spokesperson had no comment on the rally, Bank Transfer Day or the Occupy Wallstreet Movement.

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