By: Fern Shen
October 27, 2011
Dressed in Halloween costumes and bearing a giant pumpkin filled with ratepayer complaints, about 100 people picketed the downtown Baltimore headquarters of Constellation Energy Group (CEG) yesterday, to protest a planned $7.9 billion purchase by Exelon Corp. – a merger they said would claim local jobs and cause Baltimore Gas & Electric customers’ rates to increase.
“If the merger happens, it’s going to take jobs away from here,” said Monica Jones, a protester who dressed in a Marilyn Monroe-style white dress and sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” to CEG CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III, the target of much protesters’ ire.
Shattuck and other company higher-ups are eligible to receive more than $36 million in cash severance and equity awards if the merger of Chicago-based energy giant Exelon and Constellation (which owns Baltimore Gas & Electric) goes through. Shattuck himself could come away with a third of that sum – about $12.4 million.
Jones and others attending the protest (organized by Good Jobs Better Baltimore and attended by some of the nearby Occupy Baltimore participants) said allowing CEG to be swallowed by an out-of-town corporation would make BGE even less responsive to ratepayer needs than it has been since deregulation by the Maryland legislature in 1999.
“We need [re]regulation so we can take back control of our bills,” said Jones.
Organizers urged the crowd to attend the hearings the Maryland Public Service Commission has scheduled to review the Constellation-Exelon merger, beginning on Oct. 31. Shattuck and Exelon President and COO Christopher Crane are scheduled to testify on the first day of the hearings. The protesters vowed to be there.
“Is this the last Mayo Shattuck has heard of us?” said Vanessa Johnson, director of Good Jobs Better Baltimore. “No!” the crowd replied.
“Are we going to fight a corporate greed merger and make sure BGE is good to its customers?” “Yes!” they shouted.
-Video and photo by William Hughes.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, October 26th, 4:45pm
CONTACT: Julie Ferris, C 443-935-3536, Julie.Ferris@goodjobsbetterbaltimore.org
Community members confront Constellation CEO Mayo Shattuck III to say Baltimore won’t be tricked! No merger deal without real protections for jobs, BGE customers.
BALTIMORE — On Wednesday, October 26th, BGE customers and community members with the grassroots group Good Jobs Better Baltimore descended on Constellation headquarters in full Halloween spirit with a 30 piece marching band and five foot jack-o-lantern to confront CEO Mayo Shattuck III. Organizers say the giant pumpkin, stuffed with thousands of petitions from BGE ratepayers, was made to deliver a message to Mayo Shattuck and Constellation: this Halloween Baltimore won’t be tricked by false promises about the proposed Constellation Exelon merger.
“I’m here because I care about the future of my city. What happens with this merger will affect our everyday survival as Baltimore residents and we don’t want to see jobs and protections for BGE customers stripped away” said Monica Jones, a nursing home worker, mother of three, and life long resident of Baltimore. Jones was joined by more than 100 community members and BGE customers, some in costume, who showed up to make the special Halloween delivery to Constellation headquarters.
As the gargantuan gourd rolled through the doorway at Constellation, representatives from Good Jobs Better Baltimore were also filing rebuttal testimony with Maryland’s Public Service Commission (PSC) in response to testimony filed by Constellation and Exelon representatives earlier this month defending the merger. Good Jobs Better Baltimore has presented an $810 million community workforce proposal that could create more than 1,000 new green jobs in Baltimore through EmPOWER Maryland, a green jobs program, protect existing jobs at Constellation, and provide real rate relief for BGE customers through a $500 one time credit and provisions for re-regulation.
The controversial merger deal has faced strong opposition since hearings began at the PSC in June, with many individuals and groups including Good Jobs Better Baltimore and EDF, Constellation’s largest shareholder and nuclear partner, filing testimony as intervenors. Intervenors have cited weak protections for BGE customers, job loss when the companies’ combined headquarters move to Chicago, and the supersize pay of Constellation CEO Mayo Shattuck, who received $15.7 million in compensation in 2010 even though Constellation lost nearly $1 billion last year, as major concerns.
Good Jobs Better Baltimore is a coalition of community organizations, unions and religious groups uniting to build an economy that works for everyone in our city.