Charlotte, North Carolina, houses the Bank of America’s corporate headquarters. Five of the nation’s top 25 banks operate in Charlotte. It has a high concentration of Bank of America’s 200,000 US direct employees, as well as workers under contract. Charlotte is something of a company town. A statue at one of the main intersections shows a miner pouring gold on top of the head of a banker, modeled after former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan.
The Occupy Charlotte protesters have been under fierce attack ever since the movement started, and have now had their democratic right to protest severely curtailed. New rules drafted by a relatively junior city official define “free speech space” and ordain that any gathering which takes up more than 5 square feet of space must last no longer than three minutes. That’s right THREE minutes.Bank of America employees are taught to keep this giant’s secrets hidden. In fact, one might go as far as to say that the employees are primed with answers riddled with confidentiality and security measures. How do we know, you ask? Well, several employees (who wish to remain anonymous) have come forward with details the methodologies given to the staff members, as part of their training regimen.
Bank of America employees are all familiar with the term “MyLearning”; a module that contains lessons on various internal issues and how to behave in public when asked certain questions. Bank of America has an image to uphold and they make it a point to put employees through training courses to prepare them for the possibility of media questioning.
These rules come disguised within Risk Assessment, Money Laundering, and even “Code of Ethics” courses that help the employees understand what is right and wrong in finance and how to approach unethical business with politicians and government officials. What they tend to underplay is that within these courses are hidden agendas and statements about what information must not be divulged to the media, or outside of the company, backed with the threat of termination. In fact, if the employee does not pass these tests with 80%, he or she must start over from the beginning.
But Charlotte employees cannot stand up to this giant because there is no longer a way for them to congregate and no “safe haven” for those who want to speak out. The only way to protest legally in Charlotte is to do so within the confines of the “free speech space.”
What has happened to freedom of speech within this over-looked financial capitol? More information to be released as employee stories unfold.
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