Jersey Journal

New Jersey Citizen Action Protests Bonuses, Pickets AIG Offices In Jersey City

The Jersey Journal — Friday, November 6, 2009

By Michaelangelo Conte / The Jersey Journal


Members of New Jersey Citizen Action picketed in Jersey City outside the Exchange Place offices of AIG today protesting bonuses already paid and those promised to workers at the company that was central to the financial industry meltdown.

"We urge AIG to stop paying bonuses and to make employees who have already received bonuses give them back," Phyllis Salowe-Keye, executive director of NJCA, said.

NJCA members carried posters and sang songs attacking the insurance giant, which was allotted more than $182 billion from taxpayers to avert its collapse.

About 20 protesters chanted "You got bailed out; We got sold out!" and sang song parodies with lyrics including "No more layoffs, Down with greed, And before we'll be your slaves, We'll be buried in our graves."

NJCA officials say AIG promised $475 million in bonuses to employees of the Financial Products Unit even though that unit was the root of the company's losses and that total bonuses are estimated at $1.2 billion. They also said AIG CEO Robert Benmosche's pay is higher than any chief running a bailout company — $10.5 million.

But AIG spokesman Mark Herr responded that those at fault in AIG's Financial Products Unit are gone.

He said current FP workers are winding down the unit and when done, they will lose their jobs.

Benmosche's salary, he added, was cleared by the government's Special Master for compensation. He also said that in March AIG workers agreed to return up to half of their retention bonuses and have already returned $19 billion.

"The men and women of AIG continue to work diligently at rebuilding the companies, restoring shareholder value,'' Herr said, "which benefits the American taxpayers, our largest shareholders — and repaying the government.''

Among those protesting today was Paulette Everle of Jersey City, who stood in the cold wind with her Seeing-Eye dog Prudy.

"Unemployment is at 10.2 percent and they are still working and getting bonuses with our tax dollars," Everle said.

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