By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just as the Federal Reserve is about to hold a key policy meeting in Washington, DC, a group of activists is calling for a more transparent process to replace Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
The group, which staged a march this morning from Independence Hall to the Federal Reserve at Sixth and Arch Streets, says the Fed’s replacement process is dominated by major financial firms and corporations.
Members of Action United, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, and Pennsylvania Working Families say there are no community, labor, or consumer representatives on the board of directors of the Philadelphia Fed, so working folks are shut out of the process.
They are part of a grass-roots coalition across the country that met last month with Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, demanding that the central bank hear the concerns of ordinary Americans as it prepares to raise interest rates.
Who are those ordinary Americans?
“The unemployed, the underemployed, the working and barely-working working class,” says Kendra Brooks of Action United.
“We just need some people at the Fed to step up and pay attention to us,” adds Chris Campbell (far right in photo), a graduate of Orleans Technical Institute who has been doing multiple odd jobs to scrape together income.
Dawn Walton, who had been one day away from becoming a permanent worker with benefits at a local auto dealership when she was laid off after 89 days, said, “And now (we’re) out here pounding the pavement with millions of other people. It looks like there’s no way out.”
While the unemployment rate has declined to a six-year low, the activists challenge the Fed to visit poorer neighborhoods in Philadelphia and elsewhere before raising rates, because many are not experiencing a recovery.
Plosser, the Philadelphia Fed president since 2006, was among those known as a “hawk” for casting dissenting votes against the Fed’s prolonged low-rates policies.
The Philadelphia Fed says it is following a process for the selection of the bank’s next president outlined by Congress, and its senior executives have met with representatives of groups who have expressed interest in the process.