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Schumer: Boa/Fleet Should Continue To Have An Upstate New Yorker On New Board Of Directors

Bank of America and Fleet are currently in the process of choosing a new 15-person Board for when the companies merge; Schumer says continued Upstate representation on Board is needed to help maintain Fleet's presence in the region

Michael Picotte of Albany had been on Fleet's 15-member Board but Fleet will only have 7 members on the new one

The proposed company that would result from a Bank of America/Fleet merger should have a representative of Upstate New York on its Board of Directors, US Senator Charles E. Schumer said today. Schumer said that the region should be represented in company deliberations to ensure that Fleet's strong presence in the area is maintained and that decisions affecting jobs and other major concerns include input from someone knowledgeable in and protective of the area.

"I've spoken with the CEOs of both banks and they assure me that overall job levels in New York will stay the same or even go up. But we still don't know about those good backoffice jobs, and we don't know how future decisions will impact Upstate down the line," Schumer said. "There's an air of uncertainty about it and I want to make sure that jobs in upstate New York are protected and that Fleet's strong presence there is maintained. One way to help achieve that is to make sure that the region continues to be represented on the company's board."

According to bank officials, Fleet and Bank of America are currently in the process of choosing the new Board of Directors for the company. While Fleet previously had a 15 member board, it will have just 7 members on the new merged company's 15member board. Schumer, a top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, said that because Fleet does much of its business in Boston, he is concerned that New York may not have a patron on the new board. As a result, he today urged Fleet's Charles "Chad" Gifford, who will now become chairman of the merged company, and Bank of America's Kenneth D. Lewis, who will become the chief executive, to reserve a slot for an upstate New York representative to ensure that the new company maintains Fleet's presence in the region. Currently, Michael Picotte of Picotte Companies in Albany sits on Fleet's board.

In October, Bank of America announced that it would merge with FleetBoston as part of a $47 billion stock deal. Although the two banks do not plan to close branch offices, Bank of America has said it expects to save $1.6 billion in part by cutting backoffice jobs. According to Fleet, there are thousands of these workers performing these types of duties in New York, including roughly:

" 700 in the Capital Region; " 600 in Western New York; " 1,300 in Central New York; " 400 in Rochester/Finger Lakes.

In addition, Albany may no longer be home to Fleet's upstate New York headquarters, because the Kiernan Plaza site also houses Fleet's computer operations center and Bank of America already has several computer operations centers nationwide. After Schumer pressed Gifford and Lewis in the fall, they told him that they do not expect the overall number of jobs in New York State to go down.