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Chicago Mercantile Exchange CEO Craig Donohue was mic checked by working families as he gave a speech to attendees at a trading industry conference in Houston. Four protesters chanted a preprepared message to Donohue and the audience for more than a minute before being escorted out of the room. In particular the protesters complained that CME was getting $1 billion in taxpayers' money while threatening jobs in Chicago.
From a press release issued by Stand Up Chicago:
“Mr. Donohue, as you stand here today, preparing to give the 1% tips on how to get even richer, you are 1,000 miles away from the struggling families of Chicago and Illinois and they are further from your thoughts, even though CME will line its pockets with over 1 billion of their tax dollars over the next ten years.”
“You were only able to get that money by making empty threats to relocate. The 99% of Chicago and Illinois can’t afford to travel here so we are here to ask you a question on their behalf and on behalf of all 99% families everywhere.
Security officers and conference representatives surrounded the protesters and asked them to leave before they could finish their address. The protesters cooperated, allowing themselves to be slowly escorted out of the room, continuing to deliver their message as they went.
One protester managed to capture the Mic Check on video. Even though the video fades to black while the group is being escorted out of the conference room, a final haunting question is audible: “‘What will working families get for their billion dollar investment?’”
When the Illinois state legislature, pressured by empty threats of relocation, voted in late 2011 to give the CME Group over $1 billion in tax breaks over the next ten years, the working families of Chicago and Illinois became unwilling stakeholders in the highly profitable exchange.
Unfortunately, the 99% has received absolutely nothing for their large investment, even though the CME is Chicago’s most profitable corporation, raking in $2 billion in profits last year alone.
The welcoming delegation and mic check group reminded Donohue that their $1 billion-plus tax dollar investment in the CME Group makes Illinois and Chicago taxpayers “shareholders” in the exchange. Although that message was clearly delivered today, taxpayers are still waiting for an answer as to what, if anything, working families will receive for their investment.
This is not be the first time that Chicago’s 99% have “followed” CME executives traveling out of state. Stand Up! Chicago sent Donohue and CME Chairman Terrence Duffy special “Show You Care” packages last week, while the two attended the high-powered Futures Industry Association conference at the ritzy Boca Resort in Florida. The packages contained messages from struggling families asking the wealthy tax-avoiding executives to pay their fair share of corporate and personal taxes.