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Amid Financial Crisis, WaMu Collapse Hits Hard in Seattle

The banking crisis has been hitting all parts of the American economy, including the local banking sector of Seattle, where Washington Mutual went from a solid industry to a nonexistent entity. Lee Hochberg reports.

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  • JON FINE, United Way:

    They were a generous donator in this community, and one has to be concerned when they go away.


    Jon Fine is CEO of United Way of King County.


    Yes, an organization like that matters.


    Seattle's United Way chapter is the largest in the country. Last year, it raised $117 million; $2.1 million of that came from Washington Mutual and its 43,000 employees.


    The fear that that money won't be replaced is quite real. And you're talking about people who are very much in need and very much suffering.

    We spend that money on ending homelessness, getting kids ready for school, helping domestic violence victims, helping seniors, helping youth graduate. That money goes directly to those services. And if we don't replace that money, those services will need to be cut.


    Washington Mutual is being taken over by New York-based JPMorgan Chase, a company that has shown its own largesse, giving $100 million a year to nonprofits. It says it will be a good corporate citizen in Seattle, but it's too early to know specifics.

    Chase may be closing 400 branches and says it will lay off some of the 3,500 employees at Washington Mutual's Seattle corporate headquarters.


    Companies that are laying off employees have fewer employees to donate and they also have more insecure employees when they're laying people off who are less likely to donate their dollars and their time.

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