Private Equity/Wall Street on Blast at Netroots Presidential Forum


Philadelphia, PA — Today, during the presidential forum at Netroots Nation in Philadelphia, former Toys ‘R’ Us employee Sarah Woodhams asked the candidates how they planned to curtail one of the biggest threats to the retail sector — and the economy at large — when she asked the following question:


“In recent years, dozens of retail companies controlled by Wall Street have gone into bankruptcy, including RadioShack, Payless, Kmart. Just between Toys ‘R’ Us and Sears, we’ve lost more than 15,000 jobs right here in Pennsylvania and hundreds of thousands of retail jobs nationally because billionaires buy up these companies, make huge profits on our backs, and get away with it because there’s no financial regulation. As president, what will you do to hold private equity firms and hedge funds accountable for the destruction of our communities and livelihoods?”


Woodhams is a leader with United for Respect, which is bringing together workers who have lost their jobs, livelihoods, and financial security due to the Wall Street-caused bankruptcies of their employers. Woodhams worked at the Babies ‘R’ Us in Harleysville, Pennsylvania for seven years before her store closed. With the support of United for Respect, she and thousands of Toys ‘R’ Us workers have petitioned Congress, held protests in stores, spoken out in the press and on social media, pushed for responsible investment by pension funds that invest in private equity, and organized thousands of families hurt by the loss of their Toys ‘R’ Us jobs. 


Toys ‘R’ Us employees made history last year in the creation of a $20 million financial assistance fund by two of the company’s former owners — KKR and Bain Capital — who established the fund after Toys ‘R’ Us shut it doors and laid off 33,000 employees. It was the third-largest bankruptcy in retail history and was directly caused by the leveraged buyout carried out by the firms. Weeks ago — following a $56 million payment to Kirkland & Ellis LLP, which represented Toys ‘R’ Us in the bankruptcy a judge also approved a $2 million severance settlement for all the Toys ‘R’ Us employees who lost their livelihoods.

If you’re covering Netroots or this issue and are interested in speaking to Sarah Woodhams, please contact Asya Pikovsky at (207) 522-2442 or [email protected], or Taylor Campbell at (202) 854-9571 or [email protected].