May House Meeting Packet

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					                                                                            House Meeting Host Packet
                                                                                           May, 2012

     “Corporate Power & Corporate Greed”
(please print enough copies of these handouts for participants to have their own or share with a partner)

   Welcome & Agenda for Participants                                                                        p. 1

   Understanding Corporate Power and Corporate Greed                                                        p. 2
       This 1-pager provides some basic information on how corporations use their power to take
          advantage of consumers, communities and our government.

   Challenging Corporate Greed in the 99% Spring                                                            p. 3
       This 1-pager profiles how communities are taking on two greedy corporations this month.


   Detailed Host Agenda for 90-minute House Meeting                                                         p. 4
       Print two copies to help you and your Timekeeper keep the meeting on track

   Sign-In Sheet                                                                                            p. 6
        Print enough copies so that each participant can sign in; five people fill one sheet
        To help build the movement and connect your participants to Change Nation, please send
           us completed Sign-In Sheets / contact information
           via email ( or fax (202-387-4892)

   House Meeting Report Form                                                                                p. 7
       Please let us know how your house meeting goes.
         Send the report on your house meeting to Change Nation via email
         ( or fax (202-387-4892), OR fill out the form online at

                    Questions or Concerns? Please email
                     Welcome & Agenda for Participants

Thank you so much for coming to this house meeting and taking the time to join with people in your
community to share, learn and take action together!

This house meeting explores: “Corporate Power and Corporate Greed.”

It’s true that corporations were hit by the recession. But since the recession officially “ended” in the
summer of 2009, big corporations have experienced a recovery, while too many workers – and their
families and communities – have been left in the dust.

Last year, corporate profits set record highs, but on the ground, unemployment was still at crisis levels,
poverty was rising, and our state and federal budgets were still in the red. Part of the reason for this
disconnect is that corporations shed so many jobs when the recession hit but when business picked up
again they either asked their remaining workers to just work more or they hired overseas. Another
reason we’re seeing a recovery for corporations and depression for our communities is tha t on Tax Day
many families paid more in income taxes than some of America’s largest and most profitable

During this house meeting, we’ll discuss how too many corporations are pursuing profits at the
expense of the common good, and what regular people – like us – can do about it.

                                         House Meeting Agenda

       1. Welcome and Round of Introductions

       2. Reflecting on Corporate Power
          We will share stories and learn from others about how we all relate to corporations and
          whether that relationship is mutually beneficial.

       3. The 99% Spring
          We will learn about some steps that people around the country are taking to challenge
          corporate greed this month.

       4. Taking Action
          We will talk about next steps to take together (on-the-ground and on-line) to support efforts
          to rein in corporate power and greed.

       Understanding Corporate Power & Corporate Greed
        power: the ability to act or produce an effect
        greed: a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as profit) than is needed
        profit: the difference between money earned (revenues) from the sale of a product or service
                and the money spent (expenses) to produce the product/service

Corporations are big, complicated organizations motivated to make a profit. Sometimes this quest for
profits leads them to develop exciting products that create jobs and bring joy to consumers, but other
times they pursue profits at the expense of employees, communities, and the environment. Corporate
power and greed is too complicated to fully explain here, but here are two examples of ways
corporations are behaving badly.

Corporate Inequality Creators
Corporations tell us that what’s good for them is
good for workers and the economy. But the
chart 1 shows how the rate of growth since 2001
for corporate profits spiked back up after the
recession (in gray) while employee compensation
stayed flat. In addition, we know that the pay
gap between CEOs and workers is the biggest in
the world and at a record-high; 2 and that
corporations protected their profits during the
recession by laying off workers to reduce
expenses, and they still aren’t hiring now.

At a time when unemployment is still high and families are struggling, it’s not right that companies are
making the problem of inequality worse by only creating profits for themselves.

Corporate Tax Avoiders
In April, American families filed their tax returns, contributing to the revenue base that keeps our
society running. But many of America’s most profitable corporations didn’t pay a dime3 in federal
income taxes, thanks to rigged tax rules and loopholes. Actually, many corporations get refunds,
credits, subsidies and other incentives (paid for by taxpayers) that are supposed to encourage
businesses to locate, hire and expand in America and the states . But too often the actual number of
jobs created doesn’t match the amount paid by state and federal governments to corporations. Also, in
16 states workers’ income taxes are diverted to corporations,4 leaving these states (including NC and
OH) with less revenue or forcing them to increase other taxes on workers .

Instead of passing tax revenue on to already profitable corporations, we should push for corporations
to contribute their fair share to help close the budget deficits and shortfalls.

1 -styles-of-the-rich-and-clueless/
             Challenging Corporate Greed in the 99% Spring
Last fall, Occupy Wall Street focused the political discussion in this country on economic inequality.
Their message about the huge (and growing) gap between the rich 1% and the rest of the 99%, and
their tactics of marches and encampments, quickly spread throughout the country. This spring there
are a number of protests being held around the country to call attention to corporate greed. Here are
two such actions happening under the banner of the “99% Spring.”

Equity LifeStyle Properties Shareholder Meeting; Chicago, Illinois, May 8
Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) is the country’s largest corporate owner of manufactured housing
communities (also known as mobile homes parks). ELS has been increasing the ‘lot rents’ that families
have to pay at an alarming rate, and the Better Business Bureau gave ELS an F rating due to
complaints from residents.1 Furthermore, ELS’s chairman, Sam Zell (ranked at #66 in Forbes list of the
400 richest people in America 2) has a record of tenant and labor violations, and gives big campaign
donations to politicians who want to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Since most of ELS’s manufactured housing communities are marketed to senior citizens, a group of
retirees from across the country are planning to attend the company’s shareholder meeting to call on
Sam Zell and ELS to meet with them and develop a plan that assures affordable, quality housing for
residents and supports improvements to our nation’s Medicare and Social Security programs.

Want to support the efforts of community leaders and members of the Manufactured Home Owners
Association of America (MHOAA) to get ELS to treat tenants and retirees fairly? Sign the petition to
Sam Zell at &

Bank of America Shareholders Meeting; Charlotte, North Carolina, May 9
Bank of America Corporation (BOA) is the second-largest3 U.S. bank, and ranked 9th in Fortune’s
ranking of America’s 500 biggest corporations. 4 The company received $45 billion 5 through the federal
bank bailouts and its profits jumped 40% at the beginning of this year, but it has continued to
foreclose on homeowners and raise fees paid by customers.

Given BOA’s role in the recession and their return to the same practices that took advantage of regular
people while pushing our economy to the brink of collapse, thousands of people from North Carolina
and across the country will unite in Charlotte to put Bank of America on notice through large-scale,
non-violent direct action.

Want to follow the BOA Shareholder Meeting Protests? Visit

1 -reviews/manufactured-home-dealers/equity-lifestyle-properties-in-chicago-il-
                                      Detailed Host Agenda

1. Welcome and Round of Introductions                                                                        15 minutes

      Welcome everyone and quick round of introductions.                                                     (10 min.)
           o    Ask everyone to say their name and two words they think of when they think about
                corporations – one that reflects the positive and another that is critical. As host, you
                should go first and model keeping it concise. For instance:
                         “My name is ________, and my two words for corporations are jobs and
                         “My name is ________, and when I think about corporations the two words
                         that come to mind are ‘growth’ for their positive economic impact, and
                         ‘pollution’ for the damage that some companies do to our environment .”

      Review agenda, agree on meeting norms and explain the timekeeper’s role.                               (5 min.)
           o    The agenda has three more steps, so we should wrap up in 90 minutes.
           o    Some meeting norms to propose could be:
                    -   Confidentiality (this is important to ensure full sharing)
                    -   Respect (people should be able to express differing opinions)
                    -   Exploration Approach (want to learn and explore together)
           o    Agree on a signal for cutting people off if they dominate or speak for too long.

2. Stories and Reflections About Corporate Power (and Greed)                                                 30 minutes

      Review the one-pager on “Understanding Corporate Power & Corporate Greed.”                             (5 min.)
       Give people time to quickly review the document. If technology allows, show this video:
           o Is your boss pocketing your state income taxes?

      Discuss Reactions and Feelings about Corporations.                                                     (25 min.)
       Possible questions to ask:
           o What have you noticed about the way the media and politicians t alk about
                corporations and the economy?
                The goal of this question is to get people to r eflect on the role of the media in shaping
                the conversation. If people aren’t responding, offer this follow-up question:
                     -   Do they talk much about power and greed or is the story usually positive?

           o    What examples of corpor ations can you think of that are doing right by the
                community? What examples of greedy corporations can you think of?
                The goal of this question is to acknowledge the nuance of this issue and give people a
                chance to inform/teach each other. Corporations aren’t all the same, and individual
                corporations aren’t all good or bad either. Allow for complexity here.

           o    What decisions do we (as consumers) make on a daily basis that contribute to and/or
                challenge corporate power?
                The goal of this question is to get people to think about their own spending patterns. If
                people are having a hard time thinking this through, you might offer these examples:
                     - Purchasing goods/services at stores that we know are not treating their
                         workers fairly (or are bad polluters) but have the cheapest prices.
                     -   Banking with a local/community bank or credit union that is committed to
                         responsible lending that benefits the community.

3. Discussion About Ways People Are Fighting Back                                                        30 minutes

      Review the one-pager on “Challenging Corporate Greed in the 99% Spring.”                           (5 min.)
       Give people time to quickly review the document.

      Discuss Reactions and Feelings about the Protests.                                                 (25 min.)
       Possible questions to ask:
           o Do you think there’s a conne ction between the campaign contributions of
                corporations and the freedom they have to take advant age of people , tax rules and
                the environment?

           o   Have you participated in any demonstrations/protests like the ones described in the
               one-pager? What do you think the impact of these protests will be?

           o   In addition to protests, what else do you think it will take for corporations to start
               prioritizing regular people , not just profits for CEOs?

           o   How can we keep this issue front and center during the 2012 election?

4. Next Steps: Taking Action                                                                             15 minutes

      Generate / brainstorm ideas for local actions to take.                                              (10 min.)
       If technology allows, show this 2-minute video to offer another example of how a small group of
       community leaders protested BOA:
             o MoveOn Fighting Corporate Greed a t Bank of America

       Possible questions to ask:
           o How can we all support the two actions happening in Charlotte and Chicago?

           o   What corpor ations and m ajor employers should we le arn more about to discover
               whether they’re putting profits over people or being fair to our community?

           o   What local companies and corporations have a bad track record of taking advantage
               of workers, tax rules or the environment?

           o   What could we do together to ask our corporations to contribute to the common

      Set a date for the next meeting                                                                     (5 min.)
       Find a date at roughly the same time next month. Open up the option for someone else to host
       next time. Invite people to bring a friend.

                                Check-In Sheet
Organization (if any):
E-mail:                                @
Phone:                                                          ZIP:

Organization (if any):
E-mail:                                @
Phone:                                                          ZIP:

Organization (if any):
E-mail:                                @
Phone:                                                          ZIP:

Organization (if any):
E-mail:                                @
Phone:                                                          ZIP:

Organization (if any):
E-mail:                                @
Phone:                                                          ZIP:
         Send to Change Nation via Email: or Fax: 202-387-4892

                            House Meeting Report Form
Meeting Date:                                        Meeting Topic:

Meeting Location:

Host Name:                                           Email:

How many people came?                How long was the meeting?          When is your next meeting?

Would you be willing to speak with Change Nation staff to provide more                         Yes / No

   Overall, how did the meeting go?
    Not Well At All                                                                          Extremely Well
         1                       2                     3                      4                    5

   Did people develop or deepen their relationships with each other?
       Not At All                                                                              Very Much
           1                     2                     3                      4                    5

   Were the handouts useful and informative for the discussion?
       Not At All                                                                              Very Much
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   Were the discussion questions helpful to you for keeping the conversation going?
       Not At All                                                                              Very Much
           1                     2                     3                      4                    5

   Did people leave the meeting with new information, ideas and opinions?
       Not At All                                                                              Very Much
           1                     2                     3                      4                    5

   Anything else you’d like to tell us? (i.e. feedback on materials, future topic suggestions, etc.)

                 Send to Change Nation via Email: or Fax: 202-387-4892
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