On May 13, labor, community, and congressional leaders gathered at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters headquarters in Washington, DC, for the premier screening of Show us the Tax Breaks and a discussion on strategies for bringing about a real and just economic recovery.
Show us the Tax Breaks, a short documentary film produced by UNITE HERE, tells the story of how the Pritzker family’s Union Tank Car company gathered taxpayer subsidies while destroying good, family-sustaining jobs in Northwest Indiana.
In his remarks at the premiere, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, "There are some companies that profit from practices that get in the way of economic recovery," he said in reference to Union Tank Car’s abuse of economic development subsidies. "President Obama and most congressional leaders understand that good, middle class jobs are the key to a strong economy, but it’s our job to remind them every day of this truth, because every day they’re faced with opposition from business leaders who profit from the status quo."
President Newton Jones of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and UNITE HERE president John Wilhelm spoke on the panel as well. In noting that Hyatt-branded hotels have collected over $1.5 billion in taxpayer bonds, subsidizes loans, and other incentives, John Wilhelm said that "as we’ve seen with both Union Tank Car and Hyatt Hotels, Pritzker-owned businesses have collected millions of dollars in subsidies while driving down standards for their workers. We should not be rewarding these practices by providing such companies with public subsidies."
Kelly Hounshell, who had worked at Union Tank Car’s East Chicago plant for 22 years and served as president of IBB Local 524 when the plant closed, said in his remarks that "I don’t want to see more companies taking advantage of their workers and their communities like Union Tank Car did to us."
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) noted that the personal stories presented in Show us the Tax Breaks told the "real story of what is happening to American workers when companies abuse the tax code."
Show us the Tax Breaks is available on-line at www.showusthetaxbreaks.org and will be shown again soon as part of on-going discussions with key legislators and community leaders about the importance of transparency and accountability in state and federal tax subsidies for businesses.