San Diego BofA Discriminates Against Working People

Rocky Neptun

The El Cajon branch of the Bank of America, while historically hostile to working-class and poor people, has taken on new discrimination measures; while its corporate parent rakes in a $5.2 billion in public bail-out funds.

Bill Wilson works for a local construction firm that has its million dollar plus account with Bank of America. And while the BofA rakes in tons of money off the interest on this and other corporate accounts; its attitude toward employees of the firms is a refelection of the class-war that is emerging from the recent economic downturn.

Wilson, who has cashed his check for over five years at the El Cajon Blvd. and Marlboro Ave. branch, last Friday realized the hard reality that the Bank want's to get rid of workers who simply want to cash their checks.

Janitors, gardeners, service workers and hundreds of other low-paid employees; who just don't have enough money left over at the end of the pay period to open accounts or who lack the necessary credit status, are finding that they are unwelcome and subjected to humilitating and descriminitory practices as they attempt to cash their checks.

Wilson, who twice a month used to present two forms of ID, along with his payroll check, to a bank clerk for cashing is fuming about BofA's latest attempt to discourage check cashing by employees of account holders.

In the past, the El Cajon branch has tried serveral process to discourage workers. At first, they attempted to form several lines - one for account holders and another for "check cashers." Yet, that branch, in the heart of City Heights, which has over 100 languages spoken in neighboring schools, with close to 300 dialects, found that its Somali, Sudanese and Central American cashers didn't understand and ended up in the wrong line, creating arguments and some fist-fights. Another attempt, at charging a $5 check cashing fee, brought criticism from its business account holders who were asked by their employees to cover this "poor tax."

Now the Branch, apparently acting on company policy, according to the manager, has begun herding working people into a segregated corral of chairs in the southern corner of the building, where they must sign a list and wait sometimes 30 minutes before they are called. They they are brought to a desk in the middle of the bank, ID-ed and fingerprinted like common criminals being booked into jail, then "escorted" to a bank teller; all in front of "respected" customers waiting in line.

The San Diego Renters Union is urging a boycott of Bank of America until it treats working-class people with the dignity and fairness that they deserve.