The world is a complicated place and no part of society is more complex than the world of finance. The bank that operates as a greedy enterprise and seems to hurt the community is the same one that funds local community projects. The recent criticism of Hillary Clinton by the Bernie Sanders campaign for attending a fundraiser in Philadelphia hosted by Franklin Square Capital Partners is a case in point. It is possible Sanders was criticizing his rival for the Democratic nomination for president simply for being so far from Iowa but he did not mention her meeting with Black clergy earlier that day.
It should come as no surprise that the funding for union projects and union jobs comes from the Sanders campaign’s favorite villain Big Finance. Even a cursory review of press releases by Franklin Square and its subsidiary funds reveals support for union jobs. In the last two months Franklin Square’s subsidiaries have provided financial support for Pittsburgh Glass Works benefiting members of the United Steelworkers of America and for Global Jet Capital and GE Corporate Aircraft providing financing for the purchase of corporate jets including those made by Boeing and its worker members of the International Association of Machinists.
The AFL-CIO is America’s House of Labor. It represents millions of Americans who are privileged to be members of labor unions and fights to support American workers’ aspirations for a better standard of living as union membership seems to be stagnant against the opposition of those who wish to squash those aspirations. The AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust uses the collective financial resources of union members to invest in American communities. According to their website:
The mission of the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust (BIT), a bank collective trust for which PNC Bank serves as trustee, is to provide competitive risk-adjusted returns for qualified union pension plans through investments in institutional quality commercial real estate. The BIT also provides collateral benefits such as union job creation and economic development. As of September 30, 2015, the BIT had a net asset value of $4.09B.
The BIT invests exclusively in US markets and has developed and implemented one of the most comprehensive written union labor policies in the industry. In its 27 year history, the BIT has invested over $6 billion for the development and acquisition of more than 200 office, retail, multifamily, hotel, warehouse, and mixed use properties across the country. These investments have generated approximately 71 million hours in union construction work and created thousands of permanent union jobs in the service, maintenance and operations of facilities owned by the BIT.
PNC is the fifth largest bank in the United States (total branches), sixth largest bank by deposits in the United States, ninth largest by total assets, and the third largest bank off-premises ATM provider. PNC is based in Pittsburgh.
Presumably PNC Bank is on the Sanders hit list as a bank that must be broken. To be fair Sanders speaks of the Employee Free Choice Act as a means to take the shackles off workers wishing to organize. The question is does the statement of principle that immediately follows on his website undercut American Labor?
Breaking up huge financial institutions so that they are no longer too big to fail. Seven years ago, the taxpayers of this country bailed out Wall Street because they were too big to fail. Yet, 3 out of the 4 largest financial institutions are 80 percent bigger today than before we bailed them out. Sen. Sanders has introduced legislation to break these banks up. As president, he will fight to sign this legislation into law.
Speaking of the value of union membership while vowing to break up labor’s financial partners is brilliant campaign poetry; but it is in the governing that real change happens. Union members who are drawn to this poetry must ask the question: Which side are you on Bernie?
Request for comment from the Sanders campaign received no response.