News & Politics  
comments_image Comments

Move Your Money Day a Success; Over $50 Million Withdrawn From Big Banks

Around the country, in groups and individually, Americans voted with their dollars this week to move away from the banks that caused the economic crisis.

Around the country this past Saturday, November 5, people fed up with the power and influence of the big banks (not to mention their bailouts and bad customer service) moved their money to credit unions or to small, local banks.

The pressure from Occupy Wall Street on the big banks, combined with organizing efforts from many progressive groups, including New Bottom Line, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Rebuild the Dream, put some significant force behind the actions this weekend. Several people who moved their money shared their experiences with me.

“Once I started getting involved in Occupy Wall Street, I became much more conscious of my corporate consumption. I realized that some of the financial choices I had made without thinking -- without even realizing they were choices -- were, in fact, pro-neoliberal political decisions. Then I decided it was time to reverse some of those decisions,” Ned Resnikoff, a graduate student in CUNY's Labor Studies department, told me.

n“Our nonprofit organization moved our business accounts from Bank of America to a credit union in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and bank transfer day,” Jonathan Stone of Walk Against Rape, an organization that works to unite rape survivors, said. “As a nonprofit that survives solely on donations and volunteer hours, we were sick of fees, bad customer service and banks that fuel our broken monetary system focused on profits and not the well-being of the society which it preys upon. We need to move toward a system that focuses on human well-being as the source of wealth, not money.”

“When I showed up at Amalgamated [the union-owned bank featured in AlterNet's guide to moving your money] on the 14th, the security guy apologized about the long line,” Frank Smith, a Brooklyn, NY resident, told me. All of the chairs in the waiting area were full of people waiting to open new accounts. “The rep who helped me had skipped lunch and was, in fact, staying late to accommodate the line of people who were in the doors as of closing time,” he said. “The branch manager was also engaged in opening new accounts in order to stem the tide.”

Larry Porter, a longshoreman at the Port of Seattle, told me that after his small bank was bought out by Bank of America several years ago, he moved his money to Washington Mutual (which was bought in 2009 by JPMorgan Chase). Bank of America then also bought out his credit card company and hiked his interest rate from 3.9 percent to 14.9 percent, but the last straw was when they added a $10-a-month fee. He's paying down that card now, and after a local credit union opened in his area, he and his wife opened accounts there this week. “Today we are going into the Chase branch to officially close the three accounts and when our Island Credit Union debit cards come in the mail next week, we will close out her Chase checking account,” he told me on Tuesday.

Resnikoff said, “When the day came, I was visiting the place I grew up, a smallish college town in Connecticut, and the bank was near deserted. It was set to close at noon. When the clerk asked why I wanted to close my accounts, I said, 'It's National Bank Transfer Day and I don't feel comfortable having my money in a major corporate bank.' He chuckled good-naturedly -- not condescending, but bemused -- and went about his business, making irrelevant small talk the whole time. The process took about ten minutes.”

See more stories tagged with: