Bank Merger to Adversely and Disproportionately Affect Women Workers

The board of directors of Chase Manhattan Bank and Chemical Banking announced today that they have voted on a $10 billion stock swap to merge the two banks in an effort to save $1.5 billion annually. The banks said that the new bank, which will maintain the Chase name, expects double-digit per-share earnings and a return of equity of at least 18 percent. This merger, still pending shareholder and regulatory approval, will make Chase the largest bank in the United States, unseating Citicorp.

The merger, however, will result in the loss of approximately 12,000 jobs. Women, who comprise two-thirds of the banking workforce, stand to suffer a diproportionate share of these layoffs. Although heralded as creating the number one bank, this merger actually represents a setback for women who are in or entering the workforce. This setback, coming at a time when some claim that women no longer need affirmative action, is a system of the difficult times women face in the workforce. Downsizing in the white-collar professional, clerical, and communications workforces threatens women’s jobs in the latter half of the 1990’s, much as blue-collar jobs losses in the 1970’s and 1980’s threatened men’s jobs.


Commentary by Eleanor Smeal

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