Protesters Disrupt Private Equity Conference at Waldorf-Astoria
Two Dozen Burst Into Ballroom Before Speech By Carlyle Group Founder David Rubenstein
Protestors Drop Banner Asking: "Why does David Rubenstein pay taxes at a lower rate than an NYPD officer?"
September 19, 2007 – Angered by the trillion-dollar buyout industry’s treatment of workers and inequitable tax breaks corporate takeover giants receive, two dozen protestors from the Working Families Party and the New York chapter of the national community organizing group ACORN burst into the 3rd floor ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria this afternoon where more than 1,000 analysts and investors were gathered awaiting remarks from Carlyle Group cofounder David Rubenstein.
Chanting, “It’s Not Fair, Pay Your Share”, protestors entered the ballroom while two protest leaders dropped a banner from the balcony above the ballroom that read "Why does David Rubenstein pay taxes at a lower rate than an NYPD officer?" After being hustled out by security the banner remained on view above the crowd - tied to the balcony above the audience.
The action follows the announcement earlier this morning of a new coalition of New York labor and community organizations angered at buyout industry executives for saddling regular New Yorkers with an unfair tax burden while engaging in risky debt-fueled investments that have put New Yorkers’ retirement funds at risk.
Armed with signs depicting a hotel doorman that asked, “Why does Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein pay taxes at a lower rate than this guy?” and “Why do New York state pensioners see risk while David Rubenstein sees profits?” protestors demanded that the buyout industry and key players like Carlyle’s Rubinstein change their business practices and pay their fair share.
“The Carlyle Group is the poster child for an industry that has made billions by fleecing taxpayers and loading up companies with unsustainable levels of debt,” said Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Party. The Carlyle Group is one of the five biggest buyout firms in the nation. Carlyle partner Bruce Rosenblum chairs the buyout industry’s lobbying arm, the Private Equity Council—Washington, D.C.’s most outspoken defender of tax breaks enjoyed by buyout firms and their partners.
“David Rubenstein made $260 million last year, yet he paid taxes at a lower rate than the doorman at this hotel. Not only that, companies like Carlyle don’t pay their fair share in corporate taxes.” said Pat Boone, President of NY ACORN.
“What does this mean to your average New Yorker?” asked Boone. “Plenty. The takeover industry’s tax dodges increase the tax burden on the rest of us while undercutting vital public services like schools, healthcare and affordable housing.”
The coalition noted that regular New Yorkers have less to spend on taxes these days. Between 2002 and 2005, median rents increased almost 10 percent across the city, while the average household income actually dropped by more than 6 percent.
Labor leaders blasted Carlyle and other takeover titans for engaging in investment strategies that have caused instability in the credit market and put the retirement savings of small investors at risk. A number of huge takeover deals negotiated during rosier market conditions are pending, with tens of billions of dollars in debt awaiting financing. The collapse of even one of these mega-deals could spook the market, triggering a potential downturn.
Leaders of the new coalition also took the buyout industry to task for its poor treatment of workers.
”For years, companies like Carlyle have profited by cutting wages and benefits and laying off workers,” said Adrianne Shropshire, Executive Director of the New York chapter of Jobs With Justice, a national coalition of labor unions, clergy and community groups. Shropshire noted that 6,000 workers have been laid off at businesses acquired by Carlyle in the past year alone.
Leaders of the coalition plan to call on New York’s Congressional delegation as well as local and state elected officials to enact reforms that will ensure that the buyout industry treats their workers fairly and plays by the same rules as other tax-paying Americans.
The coalition includes community groups from across New York, including Coalition for the Homeless, Housing Here & Now, Jobs With Justice and Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, among others.