The protesters aimed to call attention to almost $238 million in tax breaks and corporate subsidies, which were awarded to Chase Bank in 1988 by the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to build at MetroTech and move 5,000 employees there, retaining their jobs through 2013.
But the tax breaks did not incentivize the bank to keep the jobs, protesters say, arguing that fewer than one-third of the jobs were preserved.
“We need to remind Chase that it’s been a long time and we’ve only seen layoffs from it, so it’s only fair that the people ask for public good in return,” said Nathalie Allegre of ALIGN.
The protest falls in line with a recent report released by the Coalition for Economic Justice in conjunction with ALIGN, called "Regional Review: Job Creation and New York’s Industrial Development Agencies," which shows consistent problems with New York’s IDAs.
Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) are aimed at being New York State's main job creation and job retention tool. They were created to foster local economic development by providing state and local tax exemptions and issuing tax-exempt bonds to private businesses, often in return for creating or retaining jobs. Many IDA-subsidized projects receive tax exemptions for ten, twenty, or more years.
The NYC IDA is the largest in the state, providing $143 million in net tax exemptions on 576 projects in 2009 – the largest amount of any other IDA. The report only focused on 2009 and found that 48 percent of the projects that ended in that year lost jobs or failed to create jobs.
“What is alarming is the amount of public subsidies these highly profitable companies receive – and continue to receive – even after they break their promises,” Allegre said.
The protesters demanded that Chase give back to the community by delivering on the jobs they promised, or returning the public subsidies they received.
Chanting slogans, the protesters marched up to the JP Morgan Chase glass doors, which were blocked by security, in an effort to hand over signed “past due notice bills” demanding that JP Morgan either create new jobs or give the public their money back.
The “past due bills” were accepted by a mid-level security manager and protesters hope it will make it to the hands of decision-makers.
A spokesman for JP Morgan Chase said that the bank is in compliance with the city and remains in good standing with the IDA. But protesters failed to accept that statement.
“With these development deals, tax-payers are unknowingly paying for the destruction of their own communities," said FUREE's Alvin Bartolomey. "This is why FUREE pushes out so hard to inform the people of Downtown Brooklyn and empower them to rebuild the communities being disintegrated by gentrification.”
A teach-in was also held in Zuccotti Park before the protest, and after, protesters walked around informing community members of the company’s incentives and actions.
“My concern is all the low and middle-income people being forced out through the gentrification and the unfairness of it all,” said one protester Anita Clinton, who helped convince the security guard to take the signed papers.