As this report wraps, the Golden Rule has sailed into the horror we have created, Groton-New London, Connecticut, where sixteen of our newest nuclear powered and nuclear weapon carrying submarines are being assembled. Just one of these omnicidal subs alone can end human life as we know it. Yet, without a drop of democratic involvement we impel the world in this new nuclear arms race.
The orders to research, build and maintain these omnicidal devices come from one place…. our U.S. Congress.
The conduit needed for this is our banks.
There is one national bank which doesn’t comply. One that salutes the Golden Rules voyage and mission. We support the leadership, courage and wisdom of both.
This past May 24th Amalgamated Bank hosted the team behind the Veterans For Peace’s Golden Rule “peace boat”. After showing the film “Making Waves” Co-Manager, Hellen Jaccard, “When giving these presentations, people ask what they can do to help the nuclear abolition cause. Well, one of the things you can do is move your money to a socially responsible bank such as this. It’s one of our tools.”
Vice President of Client Investment Services Robert Mante purposely put up Amalgamated’s public statement of support on Sept. 20th, 2017, the day the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came to the United Nations General Assembly for signature. Ten years ago he had researched the banks involvement with weapons manufacturers and found there were no investments in or lending to any armament company. “Why not go public with that? It didn’t make any sense for us not to.”
Why would a national bank in a highly polarized political environment take a financial risk by putting out such a specific public statement?
Maura Keaney, Vice President, Head of Client Engagement worldwide, “Nuclear war is not good for business.” The room filled with Veterans For Peace and other dedicated peace activists cheered her concise clarity.
She put it straight, “Amalgamated Bank has not, and is not going to invest in, lend to, or bank for weapons companies or weapons manufacturers. (by “weapons” the bank means all armaments, including hand guns, ammunition, tanks, submarines, nuclear weapons, etc) To the contrary we are lending to racial justice organizations, affordable housing, and to host organizations like you all, Veterans For Peace. You may not think you have all that much money, but all that money adds up. If we all said we are not going to use our money to invest in building new oil pipelines, well, then they wouldn’t be able to build new pipelines, or pay day lenders, or nuclear weapons manufacturers.”
VP Mante: “While the dollars and cents of the individual or organization many not have enormous impact, this overall movement of social responsible investing IS creating momentum around the issues that we all care about.”
He continues, “Amalgamated is the nations largest publicly traded B Corps bank. B Corp rates financial institution’s where the sole objectives are not profit. To be a B Corp one has to examine the impacts of their policies, and regard its actual effects on people and society at large. They require transparency and bringing external stakeholders into the process. We submit our data and metrics each year. It’s never been just about financial results for us.”
Vice President of Wealth Management, Gary Schneider said Amalgamated went a step further registering as a Public Benefit Corp, which is a legal status holding them responsible to answering to their advocacies. He talked of recent studies that this movement toward sustainable investments and away from big oil, big pharma, and armaments shows they are making a difference, have more stability, and have been gaining steadily in recent years.
ESG investments gaining has resulted in increased leverage, which allows them to sit at larger national financial tables and advocate for what they and we care about: Climate, workers rights, gun safety issues, environmental, racial and social justice concerns, and our vital issue of how best to shift the money out of war, militarism and the nuclear weapon industry. Every penny of yours and mine adds up and plays a part.
“Recent studies show that this collective action is truly having an effect. The cost of capital for those called “bad actors” has risen. It is costing them more to borrow vs those that are green or socially responsible.”
VP Mante chimed in “A lot of the spin coming out of the GOP now is to combat this momentum we are beginning to see. It threatens them. For example last year those funds that did not have fossil fuels in them were outperforming the ones that did.”
VP Keaney, “There used to be this thought that you had to take a financial loss to do good. You don’t. We haven’t.”
Amalgamated Bank has long walked the talk. In 2019 VP Maura Keaney, participated in a panel at United Nations supporting worldwide nuclear disarmament. In 2020 she came to testify at NYC City Hall before our City Council in support of Resolution 976 which not only called for our nation to sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty (TPNW), but importantly, to begin the process of Divesting nuclear weapons investments from NYC’s pension plans. A true accomplishment here in the very town of Wall Street, her testimony contributed to our NY City Council having 44 of its 51 Council Members support the passed legislation.
NY City Comptroller Brad Lander, the person responsible for the city process of divestment from the City’s pension plans, last month speaking at Amalgamated’s Centennial Celebration, publicly praised the bank not only as being the first in the country to raise its minimum wage, led the country in its proposal to have all guns and ammunition be coded so sales and illegal use can finally be identified and tracked, led the country in investing in imperative Climate measures, led in supporting Unions, and yes, praised it’s refusal to lend to nuclear weapon and any armament company.
Move the Money. Amalgamated’s VP Ivan Frishberg, largely responsible for the banks extraordinary environmental and climate policy focus, has shown immeasurable support to this cause. The updated report by NuclearBan. US Warheads to Windmills, is a guide for transforming the jobs, skill sets and costs of our nuclear weapon industry to move toward Climate, jobs for sustainability and security. The report is to be given to U.S. Congress this July. When VP Frishberg was asked to consult on the work, he swiftly replied, “Yes, of course!”
So yes, the rare bit of good news is we have an option to stop our unwitting participation in funding the industry of war and human annihilation.
“Takes one to know one.”
Much like the Golden Rule sailing with it’s beautiful sails up against our huge aircraft carriers in port this past fleet week, Amalgamated Bank is standing tall against the backdrop of Wall Street and institutions of beyond enormous wealth funding our endless war industries. They are both moving forward through todays hazardous climate, political and environmental, lending us hope and inspiration, an example of taking responsibility for positive change, for life.
To view Amalgamated Banks 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility Report (New 2023 Report due out next month)
FYI: Amalgamated’s Personal Investment services:
The Veterans For Peace Golden Rule, its history, itinerary, and articles, etc:
Participating in the room with four of Amalgamated’s VPs (Robert Mante, Maura Keaney, Gary Schneider, and Regino Arizmendi) were Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon, the Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Co-managers, Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa, current Captain of the Golden Rule, Susan Schnall, President of National Veterans For Peace, Ellen Barfield, United Nations VFP NGO Representative, Emily Rubino, Exec. Dir. of Peace Action NY, Brendan Fay, co-founder of St. Pats for All and NYCAN, Alice Slater, World Beyond War and Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Tara Curie, Brooklyn for Peace and Move the Money, Phyllis Cunningham, Granny Peace Brigade, Hidecko Otake, Okinawa activist, CW and filmographer, and several of the Veterans For Peace NYC Chapter 34 members: Jerry Hassett, Zool Zulkowitz, Georgia Wever (also Brooklyn For Peace), Linda Novenski, Tom Gogan (also Move The Money), Anthony Donovan.