St. Louis 99% Protests Peabody Coal Shareholder Meeting, Demand Company Pay Fair Share

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 1, 2012

CONTACT: Cathy Sherwin – 314-452-2179

St. Louis 99% Protests Peabody Coal Shareholder Meeting, Demand Company Pay Fair Share

New Wave of 99% Activism Hold Mega Corporations Accountable Over Tax Dodging

(St. Louis) – Today the 99% of St. Louis joined growing national protests at corporate shareholder meetings today by voicing disapproval of tax dodging practices both inside and outside the Peabody Coal shareholder meeting.  Several frustrated shareholders attended the meeting while over one hundred other protestors rallied outside, brandishing signs that highlighted the impact of corporate tax dodging on federal program spending in Missouri.

We are here today to stand up against corporate power,” said Colleen Kelly.  “Rather than contributing to the common good, corporations would rather buy off politicians and make obscene profits.  That cannot stand; we are here today calling for a different kind of society.”

Over the past three years, Peabody Energy made $1 billion in domestic profits, but paid $0 in federal income taxes in 2008 and 2009, and $0 in state income taxes in 2008 and 2010. According to the corporation’s annual report, it plans to pay a tax rate of about 26% this year—well below the federal rate of 35%. In addition, 2 of the last 3 years Peabody has paid more to lobbyists and groups like ALEC than taxes.

If Peabody Coal had paid its fair share in 2010, 326 more children could have had access to the Head Start program, 280 Missourians would have had the medical care they needed, or Missouri could have seen an increase of over $30,000 in disability compensation for veterans.

“I pay my taxes-Peabody Coal should too,” said Zach Chasnoff, a local small business owner,  “Peabody’s refusal to pay its fair share of taxes has real consequences for communities like mine – cuts to critical public services that keep out communities safe, serve our veterans and seniors, and make sure our kids get the quality education they need.  If Peabody Coal wants to be a world-class company, it should act like one by paying its taxes instead of lobbying for tax loopholes at the expense of our communities.”

With the economy continuing to punish working people and big corporations like Peabody Coal proving themselves unaccountable to the concerns of the 99%, working people and homeowners are descending on shareholder meetings to confront CEOs and other members of the 1% over their economic concerns.  Activists with the 99% Spring have disrupted or shut down several corporate shareholder meetings, including confronting executives with questions about compensation, lobbying, and tax dodging.  Here’s coverage from the GE shareholder meeting in Michigan and Wells Fargo in California.

After last year’s Occupy protests, this spring has seen a new wave of protests from voters and taxpayers against the rich corporations and politicians who have created an economic emergency for the 99%. The protests are being organized by The 99% Spring, a loose coalition of community and faith groups, unions, and progressive advocacy organizations.

For more information, visit www.the99power.org and www.99uniting.org.

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