Crain’s Chicago Business: Community groups to protest CME

By Lynne Marek

Chicago protesters are gearing up for a series of marches and rallies targeting CME Group Inc.’s annual meeting Wednesday, arguing that the company’s recent state tax reduction deprives taxpayers of social services.

The Stand Up! Chicago coalition of labor, community and social justice organizations, plans to stage a rally with senior citizens and people with disabilities outside the company’s Chicago Board of Trade in the morning, gather for a march around the Thompson Center at about midday and march to CME headquarters in time for the 3:30 p.m. meeting, the group said in a news release.

Some protesters may be willing to be arrested and people associated with the protesters may attend the meeting to speak up during the question-and-answer period, said Catherine Murrell, a spokeswoman for the coalition.

In anticipation of the protest activity, CME has increased security at its building.

“We have increased on-site security to ensure the safety of all of those attending our annual meeting tomorrow,” CME spokeswoman Anita Liskey said, through she declined to provide details.

There are typically a few hundred shareholders who attend the CME annual meeting.

CME last year won legislative approval of a new tax rate for the company after arguing that it was unfairly taxed more than other companies because there was a levy on all trades on its exchanges even though many originate outside the state. Other companies based in Illinois are not taxed products they sell outside the state.

As a result of the tax rate change, which provided an annual reduction of between $50 million and $65 million annually for the company, CME agreed to keep its headquarters in Illinois.

Following the march to CME headquarters, the coalition members will return to the Thompson Center plaza for a mock meeting at which they ‘vote’ as taxpayer-shareholders on executive compensation and the state tax break, Ms. Murrell said.

“Since we’re all shareholders, we should all have a voice in how the CME spends this money,” she said.

The coalition includes Action Now, the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the Chicago Teachers Union, the Lakeview Action Coalition, MoveOn, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, and SEIU Local 1, among other organizations.