Unions Plan Demonstrations, Lobbying To Close P.E. Tax ‘Loopholes’

Jun 5 2008 | 2:00am ET

A major North American union is planning to “take back the economy” from private equity firms.

At its annual convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Service Employees International Union and union leaders from every continent announced a global effort to lobby for an end to “special treatment and tax loopholes” for p.e. firms—Kohlberg Kravis Roberts came in for particular criticism—beginning with a worldwide day of protests on July 17.

The unions place responsibility for the current economic “free fall” squarely at the feet of the private equity industry. The demonstrations are designed to gather signatures on petition imploring legislators to “support the fight to take back the economy and pledge to close tax loopholes that feed the greed of the buyout industry.”

“Buyout companies make millions from buying and selling companies and risking workers’ jobs across the globe,” Philip Jennings, general secretary of the UNI Global Union, which boasts 15 million members. “That’s why we need global action from workers in response.”

SEIU said the July 17 “action,” which is also backed by the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org, will include demonstrations in 100 cities involving more than 10 million people. There will be protests in at least 50 U.S. cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as in Mexico City, London, Paris and Tokyo. The unions also presented a short film by the political comedian and Comedy Central star Lewis Black attacking KKR chief Henry Kravis, which can by found on the Web site www.july17action.org.

“The responsibility to create a healthy world economy is shared by all, and that means companies like KKR have a responsibility that extends beyond making a few people rich,” Andrew Stern, SEIU’s president, said.

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