Stepping up the pressure in an ongoing labor dispute, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said it would lodge a community reinvestment complaint to challenge NationsBank Corp.'s plan to acquire Bank South Corp.
The teamsters have been feuding for more than a year with NationsBank, which is based in Charlotte, N.C. The union claims the bank denies loans to minority applicants at higher-than-average rates.
The allegations, like a similar complaint the union filed several months ago against two NationsBank acquisition deals in Florida, are based on Home Mortgage Disclosure Act information that banks now routinely collect and make public.
The deal announced last month to buy Atlanta-based Bank South would increase NationsBanks dominance of the Atlanta deposit market from 16% to 27%. The teamsters argue that the "enormous market power" of the merged banks "could worsen patterns of urban disinvestment."
Although the teamsters complaint centers on mortgage loans to minorities, the real dispute seems to involve NationsBank's use of Pony Express couriers in various cities to transport canceled checks. Ever since a failed strike against Pony Express last summer, the teamsters have been exerting public pressure on companies that do business with the company or its parent, Borg-Warner Security Corp.
NationsBank spokeswoman Jan Boylston said Friday that Pony Express is still on the bank's list of vendors. On the fair-lending issue, she said, "Our record is a strong one, and we think this complaint has no merit."
Teamsters spokesman Bartlett Naylor said the union would not withdraw its community reinvestment complaints against NationsBank even if the bank dropped Pony Express as a vendor. Mr. Naylor said the teamsters want NationsBank to show progress on both the Pony Express and community reinvestment issues.
The teamsters campaign against NationsBank began last year when union members protested in front of the bank's headquarters. The pressure increased in July, when the union picketed NationsBank's Atlanta offices and filed CRA complaints against the two Florida deals.