Cleveland.com: Sen. Sherrod Brown rips bank CEOs at Senate hearing

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Cleveland.com: Sen. Sherrod Brown rips bank CEOs at Senate hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on Wednesday accused the chief executives of the nation’s six largest banks of profiting at the expense of everyday workers, noting the CEO-to-median worker pay ratio is now 320-1.

“Profits have gone up, stock prices have soared, your own compensation is stratospheric – but workers get a smaller and smaller share of the wealth they create and they’re working harder than ever,” the Ohio Democrat told the CEOs of Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. “Under the current system, Wall Street profits no matter what happens to workers, because those profits now come at the expense of workers.”

Brown, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, accused Wall Street of shaping the economy to benefit itself and of repurposing their money into short-term profits for shareholders, stock buybacks, and dividends. He argued those practices caused the decline of Ohio communities like his hometown of Mansfield, Ohio, where formerly well-paid union jobs were shipped to low-wage countries.

He asked J.P Morgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon whether he works 900 times harder than company employees who make 1/900 his salary. Dimon said his company was proud of the opportunities it gives employees, with starting wages of approximately $35,000, including medical and retirement benefits.

As the hearing ended, Brown issued a statement that said the days of banks and their allies controlling his committee are over. It said the CEOs can’t say they value their workers and pledge to fight employees who want to form a union, and can’t say they’re focused on lending to small businesses and growing the economy while spending billions on stock buybacks.

He criticized Wall Street for downgrading the investment value of companies that give pay raises to workers, citing a CitiBank analyst who expressed frustration that labor was being paid first, while shareholders got “leftovers.”

“The more you pay your employees, the worse you’re going to do on Wall Street. The less power you give the workers, the better you’ll do,” Brown said at the hearing. “This view that American workers are a cost to cut instead of a valuable asset to invest in, it’s what’s wrong with this system.”

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